Toby – Perfect Picture Book Friday & Giveaway

Spread the love

TOBY. Copyright © 2016 by Hazel Mitchell. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

Title: Toby

Written and Illustrated by: Hazel Mitchell

Published by: Candlewick, September 13th, 2016

Themes: dog adoption, single parent families, companionship, transition, loneliness

Ages: 4-8


“Hey bud, can you help me unpack?”

“Sure. Dad…”          “Can we get a dog?”

“Well, if you promise to take care of it, we can.”


A young boy and his dad move home at the beginning of winter. While unpacking, the boy comes across an ad for the local animal refuge and asks his dad if they can adopt a dog. They soon visit the rescue and the boy bonds with the most timid looking dog in all the cages. They take Toby home but Toby refuses to respond to all attempts to play or even treats. The dog’s adjustment goes from disinterest to destruction and the reader will wonder if Toby will truly be able to make this his forever home.

TOBY. Copyright © 2016 by Hazel Mitchell. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

TOBY. Copyright © 2016 by Hazel Mitchell. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

Why I like this book:

This heartwarming dog adoption story told in the first person by a little boy touches on many themes: loneliness in a new neighborhood (and maybe as an only child of a one parent family), perseverance, empathy, the bond between a dog and its owner, one kid+one parent families. Toby’s initial shyness will be relatable for many children when facing new situations, as well as the ensuing mishaps and mischief as Toby’s confidence and desire to please develops (peeing inside and accidentally breaking dad’s glasses). The little boy demonstrates an adorable desire to ensure  he can keep Toby through really following through with diligent training, sacrifice and love. Toby proves himself too, through his own act of kindness and ingenuity and the end suggests a relationship of commitment between boy and dog, which can only get better with time.

The illustrations in Toby are filled with subtle warm shades except for an intentional use of red for certain items, which I would encourage children to look for and ask why. Some pages, such as the evocative front and back end pages are full page story spreads (Hazel talks about this in her interview), others are four panels more in a comic storytelling style. Mood and movement sweep the reader in, especially Toby’s adorable expressions. His transformation from timid to playful pup is delightful. A big aw factor. I also loved seeing a single dad in this story and his relationship with his son.

Adopting a dog can have many challenges and this story shares both the cost and reward and would make a terrific read for any family wanting to rescue a pet. The reciprocity of any relationship makes it worth while.


Interview with the author, where she speaks more of the adoption of the real Toby. Hazel Mitchel – Illustrator Interview

Google local rescues and have children pick a pet whose story they will tell through pictures and/or words.

Lucky Kids Club is designed to involve kids in our mission of rescuing homeless and abandoned animals, primarily dogs from rural high-kill shelters where they don’t have a good chance of survival.

There are activities, posters, teacher’s guide etc on Hazel Mitchel’s website.

Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and/or activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found sorted alphabetically and by topics, here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

                             GIVEAWAY OF SIGNED COPY OF TOBY                                                               (Sorry, only available to North American addresses)

To enter this giveaway, please leave a comment about your favorite animal adoption story, if you have one, or about a pet before midnight on Thursday, 29th.

This entry was posted in Perfect Picture Book Friday and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

49 Responses to Toby – Perfect Picture Book Friday & Giveaway

  1. What a charming book! And it is realistic! I remember the early days of having a rescue dog and some of the challenges. I can certainly relate to having patience. Archie was caged for four years and when we brought him home he tore around the house and claimed his favorite places — thus he still rules the house. He is My dog though! Kids will relate to Hazel’s beautiful new book!

  2. I love Hazel’s work. Thanks for reviewing this book. It looks like it will be useful for showing kids the responsibilities of pet ownership. And how cute!

    All our pets are rescue, but Sasha was our favorite. She was a huge dog, as gentle as a mouse, and grateful as an ocean. She had challenges to overcome, but was eager to curb her behaviors (like hiding food under the bed pillows) because she was so happy to have a home and a family who adored her. Still missed, nearly 10 years later.

  3. Dow Phumiruk says:

    This book looks wonderful! I can’t wait to read it. So glad for its important messages, and so excited for Hazel!

  4. Janet F. says:

    Laina Kaye, Tola and I all say she would love a signed copy so grandma can keep hers but she will get one eventually no worries and we have swag so fingers crossed but all is good!

    • Joanna says:

      You+Tola+Laina Kaye are entered in the draw!

      • Janet F. says:

        Oh our doggie adoption story!!! Tola . Her mom met Tola and thought that a dog without a tail might not be what she wanted…. so went home to think. Soon she decided that even without a tail she knew she was the one. Tola had a ton of personality and when she returned the next week, Tola knew and came and sat on her feet as she signed the adoption papers. We often talk about what we would have missed if she left Tola behind. (And Tola, too.)

    • Hazel Mitchell says:

      Good luck, Janet! Hazel & Tobyxx

  5. Jarie Waterfall says:

    To win this book, as I understand the rules, would be to write a short verse about my unique pet adoption. Addie’s (live in grandaughter ) )little dog, Annie, had been carried off in the hills and eaten by coyotes. It was sad, and being she was fighting cancer made the loss devastating. That following Christmas I was spending the holidays alone in another state. I decided it was a rather lonely time for sure even though the fresh snowfall was enchanting. I decided to take a ride to SPCA and look at all the animals, not knowing there was someone waiting for me, and today would be a life changing adventure. There she was, “Nim,” a little Schnauzer, very much in the rough, wagging her stump of a tail like a buzzing bee. Of course it was love at first sight. I got information about adoption, it would cost $100.00 plus neutering, I didn’t have that much so I left to think about it, I called Addie.
    I then went over to the Super Thrift Store to look at Christmas tree ornaments, the dog in the back of my mind when someone approached me, a child, a boy, about ten years old, he handed me an envelope and then disappeared. I opened it, I couldn’t believe it, there was a 100.00 bill inside. “CHRISTMAS SPIRIT.” Of course I cried. Overwhelmed, I looked for the boy in the store, knowing I wouldn’t find him, I got in my car and drove to SPCA. I said, “Can I adopt the little Schnauzer?” They said “Yes!.” The rest of the story is, “I love Miracles and happy endings.” ~ jarie Waterfall

  6. Thank you, just entered my pet adoption story to be a candidate for winning Toby by Hazel Mitchell. Love it all.

  7. Suzanne Morrone says:

    I like this story especially, because it is about not giving up on what could appear to be a problem dog. So many people feel dogs, or any pet, is expendable. And this shows how it takes time and effort to build a relationship.

  8. Suzanne Morrone says:

    My comment below has been “detected as a duplicate comment.” Yet I don’t see that I’ve commented before. Don’t know if adding this will change anything???

    I like this story especially, because it is about not giving up on what could appear to be a problem dog. So many people feel dogs, or any pet, is expendable. And this shows how it takes time and effort to build a relationship.

  9. Suzanne Morrone says:

    Yey, Adding that extra paragraph somehow allowed my comment to post. Sorry if it’s confusing.

  10. Several years ago, my daughter insisted we drop off the bags of clothing for donations, lining the hallway. All I could think of was making dinner. My husband was due home in an hour. My daughter insisted the trip to the donation drop off and back would only take ten minutes. She persisted and eventually, I gave in.
    In the parking lot of the donation center, dogs barked, howled, tugged on leashes, and looked entirely too adorable everywhere we looked. When we asked why so many dogs were out, we were told that the shelter next door was trying to find homes for these lovable dogs. For some, this was their last day…
    As my daughter and I looked around, a little dog with a half white and half black face (straight down the middle, I might add.) padded over to us.
    “That’s Max,” one of the workers said. Poor little guy has had six owners. No one wants him, so tomorrow’s his last day.
    My daughter turned on the water works–high-pressure water works. I picked up Max so he wouldn’t get any wetter from the stream of tears. He lay in my arms like a baby, begging me to rub his belly. He was warm like a baby, too. The only other time I can admit to feeling love at first sight, was when I saw my husband for the first time. Max wanted to come home with us, and more than anything, my daughter and I wanted to give Max our last name and officially make him a part of our family. Three years later, my little best friend still curls behind me on my chair as I write, curls against my legs at bedtime, and gives the warmest, wettest welcomes when I come home.

    Thanks for sharing this book today. I’m looking forward to reading it very much.

  11. Damon Dean says:

    I am the granddad of several rescue Spanish Greyhounds (Galgos) and they all come with different personalities and issues that just overall need some love and accommodation. It sounds like this story relates that truth. Can’t wait to find this beautiful story.

  12. Toby and Hazel are so lucky to have each other! ?? And now the fictional Toby will bring joy to so many other people’s hearts.
    It’s a win-win-win!

  13. This is the perfect story for a certain little person who wants a dog. One of my favorite animal stories is Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas. The true story of a seal that is embraced by an entire town.

  14. I like that that this book shows a realistic portrayal of both the joys and difficulties of adopting a pet. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Jilanne Hoffmann says:

    Wow! This sounds like a book for our family right now. My son told me that he sometimes wishes he could have a younger sibling to wrestle with, and I told him we had to get busy finding a dog. 😀 This would be a good book for him to read before we actually find one. Thanks!

  16. What a wonderful book, Joanna…I’m a dog lover from way back.
    We always had dogs when our kids were growing up…we had our last dog for 13 years…an English Springer Spaniel…what a sweetheart. But one Thanksgiving, he was definitely in the dog house…or should have been. 🙂 We had a houseful of company…and when dinner was over, everyone went outside (Colorado…it was a gorgeous fall type day)…I put the dog in the laundry room and closed the door so I could go up and change so I could carve the rest of the turkey and clean up. As I came back into the kitchen, I noticed the big roasting pan with the leftovers of the 25 pound turkey was missing from the counter. YIKES! And under the dining room table, was an extremely happy, albeit guilty-looking pup. Armed with a broom, I got the carcass away from him and banished him to the other room. And then yelled at my son who I assumed had let the dog out. And then I apologized to him when I found out it was one of his friends who had heard the dog barking and felt sorry for him and let him out. Oh well, I guess the pup decided he deserved a Thanksgiving feast. 🙂

  17. Patricia Nozell says:

    Love the additional insight you provide by combining the illustrator interview on Tuesday with the book review on Friday.

    My favorite animal adoption story is the story of Moose, a mixed-breed from the Animal Care Center of St. John in the US Virgin Islands. I had the pleasure of walking Moose a few times when we visited St. John & was always sad to see that Moose was “still there.” Until a resourceful volunteer started a Moose Facebook page & the story went viral & after too much time in a shelter (I think over 2 years), he was adopted by a family in New England. The amazing part of the story is that Moose flew on a private jet during a huge blizzard in the northeast last winter, landed safely in Albany, NY, then was limo’ed to his new home – all by a family that wasn’t the adopting family. His story has been published (I reviewed it in early March) & he’s still present on Facebook, surrounded by his loving family.

  18. A gorgeous book by the ever talented Hazel. Lovely review Joanna. This is such a sweet book of helping kids learn friendship, patience and overcoming shyness. So relatable for kids everywhere. We would love another dog but gosh the guilt I feel after being away on our overseas trips would hit me when we got home and this adorable pup which would pound up and knock us over with his unconditional love… I can’t do that again. Not yet anyway. 🙂 Thanks for sharing Joanna.

  19. Andrea Mack says:

    I can’t resist a dog story, especially one with such lovely illustrations! But then, there are three dogs living in my house (my mom’s big collie and little sheltie and our mixed breed rescue dog). My dog is now twelve and relatively calm, but in the first five years of living with us, she destroyed a dog crate, $100 worth of library books and a mattress, among other things. She has been a loyal companion though, and I’m sad that she’s slowing down (rarely comes up to the second floor where she used to sleep on our bed). Hazel’s book looks like a great story about the joys of adopting a dog and I’m going to be looking for it!

  20. Iza Trapani says:

    I adore dogs, and while I didn’t have one as a child, I made it up for it as an adult. Dogs (pets) add such a layer of love, humor and fun to our lives. Toby sounds like a wonderful story and I look forward to reading it!

  21. Heather Elizabeth says:

    This book looks like a must for the preschool where I work! I love to introduce the kids to Maine authors and illustrators. My favorite pet adoption story is probably my own. I have have adopted five furry friends over the years from shelters. Each one, a love story in itself.

    • Joanna says:

      Heather where do you work? There are so many wonderful authors and illustrators in Maine. I’m very happy those five furballs found their forever home with you.

  22. Toby is definitely my kind of story! I have my own lovely dixie chick rescue mutt from TN. Becca was dumped near a highway, and luckily rescued by a couple who brought her to a dog rescue organization (or she would have been euthanized after 72 hrs 🙁 ) 10 years later, she’s my lovely companion and writing inspiration. I feel so lucky to have her!!

  23. Erik - TKRB says:

    Great review! I really need to find a copy of this book.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.