Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 309

Picture Book: Doctor White

Author: Jane Goodall

Illustrator: Julie Litty

Summary: At the beginning of this story, it seems Dr. White is a typical doctor, arriving late for work at a hospital. Quickly you realize that he is instead a small white dog who has an uncanny bedside manner, particularly for the sickest children. He lies beside them; then they usually get better. When the health inspector comes and bans Doctor White from the hospital, Doctor White stays outside near the door, hoping for entrance. Then the health inspector’s own daughter becomes very ill and is admitted to the hospital. In desperation, he allows Doctor White to come in and be present with his daughter. Sure enough, she recovers, and Doctor White is allowed to continue his valuable practice.   

Hanna’s Comments: This story is based on an actual London hospital that adopted a dog who had an unusual manner with the sickest children. Pet therapy is a documented reality. The kind of unconditional love and hope that is inspired by dogs and cats can be a healing influence. It’s important to note that world-renowned scientist, Jane Goodall, is the author of this story which gives it more credibility. Healing should not be a taboo topic for children's ministry. Yes, it's mysterious. You won't be able to explain it, but children deal with the unknown all the time. They are more comfortable with mystery than most adults. When we proclaim God and God's work as mysterious and beyond our understanding, then we are in a sense humbly praising God. Declaring ourselves to be less than God which is a good thing.

2021 Update: I recently read a beautiful novel about pet therapy. It's about an very ordinary female chaplain and the "presence" (when alive and after death) of a dog who companions her during her rounds. If you want to be enriched by a mysterious short novel, I recommend One Night Two Souls Go Walking by Ellen Cooney. 

Publisher & Date of Publication: Minedition, 2014

Age & Grade Appropriateness: 5 and up, K and up

# of Pages: 40

Available in Spanish? Not at present

Formats other than Book: None at present

PBT Category: Non-fiction, Fresh off the Press

PBT Topics this Book Connects with: affection, animals, belonging, bonds/connections, brokenness, call/calling/vocation, caring/tending, companionship, dependence/interdependence, dying, encouragement, Europe, exclusion/inclusion, exile/separation/walls, healing/healthcare, helping, miracles, mystery, pets, poverty, power, presence, renewal/restoration

Scripture Connections: The healing stories of Jesus, especially the story of the healing of Jairus' daughter (Matthew 9:18-26)

Idea(s) for Application: Read this book when talking with children about healing, particularly the mysteries of healing and the effects loving presence can have on someone’s recuperation. If you are connecting this to Jesus’ stories of healing, be sure to delineate the power you attribute to Jesus or God versus the power this little dog seems to have in the story. The dog has been gifted by his loving creator to be an instrument of healing for these children. 

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