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The Dog that Saved Christmas ISBN: 9781781127698
Byrne, Mike and Davies, Nicola
Published by Barrington Stoke, 2018
Jake absolutely hates Christmas! While autism is never mentioned in the story, it is apparent that it is Jake’s autism that makes Christmas a misery for him. Bright lights, loud noises, and lack of routine are hard for him. He is bright, particularly in maths and in his knowledge of animals, but he sometimes finds it hard to understand things, and he must have a full-time helper in school. He also has meltdowns both in school and at home. He’s a lovely lad, though, and well-loved by his understanding family. When he meets a dirty and hungry collie dog, he takes her home and it is soon apparent that Susan, as he names her, has changed his life considerably. Together, they are a team, and Susan is as fond of Jake as he is of her. After the school end of term concert, in which Jake and Susan take part to great applause, Christmas begins to mean a happier time for Jake until an elderly couple appear who claim Susan, aka Tess, as their own, a helper dog for the lady who is often ill. She had been lost when they had an accident. They are lovely people, and Jake understands that Susan must go, but he is completely bereft. After several difficult days of meltdown, the family is about to cancel their Christmas altogether when the couple reappear, having read the Christmas card that Jake had made for Susan and realising that this was where she belonged. All is well in Jake’s world once again, and Christmas is saved. This is a moving, easily read, short chapter book that will prove of great interest to new readers and older ones as well. Not only will they learn much about autism and the differences it makes to life in families, but they will also learn about the power of love and the support animals can give to people with all sorts of disabilities. The soft black and white illustrations also add much to the whole. A fine production as usual from this publisher and author.
Age: 6+