This book tells the true story of how Iggy, a silky black lab, works as a facilitator dog for children who have disclosed abuse. It was created in partnership with Boost Child & Youth Advocacy (Boost CYAC) in Toronto, Ontario, where author Kathryn Cole, who has a fifty-year career in children's books, volunteers. Ian Richards' honest and heartwarming photos show many different ages and races of girls and boys whom Iggy helps, while Cole unspools a composite narrative as if it is one child's story. This format helps any child see herself or himself in the story while keeping a smooth and uncomplicated flow.
The story immediately helps readers feel connected by saying, "If you are like me, you don't say much to people you've just met, especially when they ask you a lot of questions. ... If you are like me, you'd really rather not speak in front of a room full of strangers." It explains that at these times you might need a special friend who helps small people feel bigger, a friend like Iggy.
The child narrator shares that she sure didn't expect a large black dog with soulful eyes when she first visited the center. But there Iggy was, with his smiling handler Maggie, and the child realizes that "If Iggy could be calm here, so could I."
Every time after that, Iggy accompanies the child: when she speaks to the police officer, goes to the doctor, draws pictures. But when she goes to court, knowing that someone would be in the room she doesn't want to see or talk in front of, Iggy helps most of all. He stays close to help her be brave.
The notes at the end of the book tell us more about Boost CYAC services and about both Iggy and Jersey, the two facilitator dogs who provide comfort and support to children and youth during the forensic interview, the medical examination, counseling, court preparation sessions, and while testifying. It mentions that Iggy was bred, raised, and trained by National Service Dogs (NSD) in Cambridge, Ontario and lived for two years with "puppy raisers." After watching Pick of the LItter, a documentary about becoming a seeing-eye dog, we realize how much selfless love has gone into making Iggy the fine companion he is.
Meant for 5 - 8 year olds, this book will appeal to animal lovers, those interested in an array of helping professions, and anyone who needs to know that if they need help, they will be well supported.