by Constance Lewis-Larsen

"'Thank you Paddlefoot...You came here to teach all of us love and the magic that comes along with love if we only believe...'"

Henry and Mabel, a lonely elderly couple, decide to adopt a pet for companionship. They visit the Humane Society and bring home Paddlefoot, a little white puppy who appears to have his front feet on backward. Paddlefoot, however, has the amazing ability to talk, but only those who have true love in their hearts and believe in the magic of love can hear him. Like an angel, he brightens up the lives of Henry, Mabel, and their daughter Henrietta, and saves their six-year-old grandson Melvin when he falls into a well.

Lewis-Larsen delivers a heartwarming story about love, friendship, and family. Using the experiences of Henry and Mabel with Paddlefoot, the author focuses on how the adorable presence of a pet can enrich the owners’ lives. While the playful Paddlefoot’s activities in the fields or at home keep Henry and Mabel happy, occupied, and entertained, his talking abilities allow them to communicate freely, thus strengthening their unconditional bond. Moreover, Henry and Mabel can hear Paddlefoot, whereas Henrietta and Melvin cannot because the grief of losing Henrietta’s husband in an accident has embittered them. That sorrow can harden hearts and build up walls is depicted through Henrietta and especially Melvin, who teases Paddlefoot but is teased at school for his stuttering and lisp. Despite their negative attitudes, Paddlefoot comes to their rescue during the harrowing “well” episode, proving his unwavering loyalty. This makes them realize that love will never give up on them. The best moment of the book is when, once their hearts have softened, they can finally hear Paddlefoot speak. George Lewis’ warm, colorful illustrations capture the cheerful mood, while crisp, uncomplicated language and a wonderful ending make this a must-read book for children and adults. Gentle and sweet, this is a beautiful story of love that transforms and heals.

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