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Before You Were Mine by Maribeth Boelts and illustrated by David Walker

A little boy wonders what his dog’s life was like before he was adopted from a shelter by the boy’s family in this emotional, tender picture book. The boy’s imaginings include both good and bad scenarios: a warm house with a rug of his own and a boy who loved him in one imagining and kept on a chain and all alone in another imagining. The boy also wonders how someone could let the dog go and what it was like for him while he was on his own – the fear and hunger he must have felt.

The book has a hopeful and gentle tone even though it does allude to abuse and neglect. The warm, lovely illustrations in soft pastel colors add to the mood of the book, which evokes love and gratitude for right now when the dog has a home and family that loves him and takes good care of him. So even if the past was bad, it can be overcome. The book also encourages people to adopt dogs from shelters, which is a very important issue to me. For every dog that has puppies for a breeder, that is another dog killed in a shelter.

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