haatchi & little b book coverReviewed by Sarah McCubbin

Sometimes you meet a story that gives you a hug as you see the characters overcoming great personal odds. This true story of a dog and his boy promises to inspire and lift your day. Not being a huge animal lover myself, I didn’t expect to engage with Haatchi & Little B by Wendy Holden when I first started reading. It was after all a story about a dog…not my cup of tea.

Almost immediately, I knew I had assessed this book incorrectly. Haatchi proved to be more than a dog; he represented a will to survive, to overcome adversity and to be a powerful force for good for those around him. Found injured on a train track, abused and apparently tied there to die, he began a new life supported by a variety of people on his journey of recovery and finding a family. His life would never be the same as the damage to his leg resulted in amputation leaving him as a three-legged animal. He now required many accommodations due to his large size and the extent of his injury.

In a nearby town lived a boy named Owen. He carried his own special needs that made life exceptionally challenging. From the time he was just a little guy, his parents noticed that he seemed to be different. Just what that was became apparent when specialists diagnosed him with a rare condition called Schwartz-Jampel syndrome. Characterized by a variety of symptoms including painful muscle tension as well as breathing and vision problems, Owen’s life had been defined by this condition despite his parents’ best efforts.

When Owen’s soon-to-be step-mom discovered an ad looking for a home for Haatchi, it proved to be providential for both the boy and the dog. Each of them had extreme obstacles to overcome and setbacks along the way. Amazingly, their disabilities drew these two together. Sensing each others struggles, Owen and Haatchi became the best of friends maintaining a unique ability to comfort and encourage the other through their struggles. Their story achieved nation-wide attention and they received many awards in Britain. But for these two, the true reward is having each other.

An inspirational story, this book would be enjoyed by older children or adults. Whether someone is a pet lover or just enjoys an uplifting read, this could be well suited for a wide audience. I personally enjoyed reading about the many people along the way who went above and beyond to bless this family and support their efforts to care for this dog. Despite overwhelming circumstances, they overcame great difficulty with the help of many friends and strangers.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Sarah McCubbin is a homeschooling and foster mom in NE Ohio where she resides with her husband and 7 children. In addition to reading great books, she enjoys gardening, traveling and blogging at Living Unboxed.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Macmillan. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.