Toby is a delightful children’s book about a boy who adopts a dog and his determination to help that dog adapt to his new home. Written and beautifully illustrated by Hazel Mitchell, the book was inspired by Toby, her adopted rescue poodle. This book encourages adoption and teaches children that patience, persistence, and love, garners lots of love in return and perhaps, even the location of a missing shoe.
A Dad and his son are moving into a house. We do not know why they are moving or why it is just the two of them, but an animal rescue group left a flyer on the front step and the boy asks his Dad if they can adopt a dog. The Dad says yes, on one condition, the boy must take care of the dog; he readily agrees. They adopt Toby. Written from boy’s perspective, he knows that Toby is the right dog for him. The boy persists that Toby is the right dog, even after Toby destroys his Dad’s eye-glasses, tramples the flowers, and has an accident in the house. The boy must train Toby in order to keep him. The story follows the boy as he works with Toby, helping Toby overcome his fears, and training him the manners needed to be good citizen in their home. Along the way they have fun and bond.
My favorite illustration in this book is Toby’s first night in his new home. Toby howls and howls, so the boy gets out of his bed and gives Toby his “special rabbit” for comfort and sleeps on the sofa to be near him. Toby is looking up at the boy who is sleeping on the sofa; his look conveys surprise that the boy would be there for him and also gratitude that he is not alone. The illustrations are muted colors, with splashes of red for the shoes, collar, and leash. Although the book takes place in the autumn, as the leaves are turning, this is a new beginning for Toby.