Wanted: A Forever Home
by Janet Goodwin

"'I think we have finally won them over,' sighed Dear Lady contentedly as she looked down at the sleeping bundle of fur on her best deckchair.'"

The need to have the security and comfort of a home is a compelling one, and it drives this young adult novel forward. As the book opens, the reader is introduced to Gentleman George, a Portuguese mountain dog. George is hardworking and loyal, but he loses his home when his master dies in a fall off a cliff after an attack by wolves. George is given to a band of traveling, ne'er-do-well youths who abuse him in horrific ways.

The story then focuses on the lives of Bella, a mother cat, and her new litter, Wynken, Blynken, and Nod. A chance encounter connects Bella with Tia, a cat from Bella's previous litter, and Senora, a house cat who grudgingly welcomes the new arrivals into her forever home. After tragic events scatter the furry family, Senora and George set off on an adventure to find the other cats and bring them back to their forever home.

One of the latest trends in education is that empathy is not necessarily intuitive, but rather is a skill that must be taught to children from a young age. Empathy is born of putting oneself in another person's shoes and looking at the world from another perspective. In this, Goodwin excels. Young adults and other readers are sure to be as touched by the acts of loving kindness in this book as they are enraged by the many descriptions of animal abuse and neglect. Goodwin humanizes the animals in a way that seems perfectly natural and not at all contrived. There are humans in this tale, but they take a backseat to the starring roles of Bella, Senora, Gentleman George, and the others, which is just as it ought to be.

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