Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes (text), Scott Magoon (illus.), Rescue & Jessica: a life-changing friendship, Candlewick Press/Walker Books Australia, 1 April 2018, 32pp., $27.99 (hbk), ISBN 9780763696047
A beautiful and moving adaptation of a true tale from authors who both lost limbs in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. With sparse text and a wonderful undercurrent of visual sub-plot this picture book recreates Jessica as a young girl and parallels her journey with the Labrador pup in training to help her. Both have huge mountains to climb and disappointments to face – prompting classroom discussions on problems, expectation and family support. Alongside these are truthful descriptions of hospitals, medical aids and procedures, against a contextual backdrop of Boston City. The reader will also want to ask more about the US Firefighting Service for whom Rescue is named.
Limited colour digital illustrations bring details – such as Jessica’s prosthetic leg and her obvious bewilderment – into focus. I particularly love that a dog’s monochrome view is included. As dark textures and bleak-angled compositions reduce, the pages turn to outdoor colour and both dog and girl cross the bridge to independence in a book that commemorates bravery and adventure. Suitable for 5 – 10 year olds.
Reviewed by Liz Anelli