Major Makes History: From the Shelter to the White House by Jill Twiss,  illustrated by Maribel Lechuga


Major Makes History: From the Shelter to the White House by Jill Twiss,  illustrated by Maribel Lechuga. Harper, HarperCollins, 2021. 9780063118768

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Format: Hardcover

What did you like about the book?  Just as introducing a rescue dog to new surroundings can be a bit fraught, so too can a book about the process have a complicated journey. This well-meaning effort must have started out hoping to be a happy story about the White House’s first-ever rescue dog: Joe Biden’s German shepherd, Major.  The first-“person” narration by Major relates his rough start in life, Joe’s visit to the animal shelter (the president looks sharp in creased khakis, a tucked in polo, and his trademark gold aviator sunglasses), and life as a First Dog. Major is shown meeting VP Harris, playing with Champ (the other Biden dog), and comforting the president, but also doing doggie things like drinking out of the toilet, digging up the garden, and hiding from the scary vacuum cleaner. The clean, slick digital artwork gives a dog’s eye view of the White House, filled with interesting details like Dr. Jill Biden, the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, and a bust of Ben Franklin. The animal shelter scenes show racially diverse people adopting dogs, including kids and older people and even a woman in a wheelchair. The uplifting refrain of who’s rescuing who and the silly, cheerful antics of the pups will entertain readers and may prompt some families to make their own trips to a local shelter. The book closes with background information on past presidential pets and resources for those considering adoption.

Anything you didn’t like about it? As anyone following the breathless coverage of this dog’s bumpy ride will know, Major has bitten more than one person since moving into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and has been sent back to Delaware for extra training. The author handles this with the following quote from Major: “There are so many new people that I sometimes get too excited. I even had a friend help me learn to behave myself a little better.”  I actually couldn’t find out if Major has returned to the White House yet; only that his unpredictability has led to a delay in the move-in date for the new First Cat. Also, Champ has since died (the book is dedicated to his memory). I have to think that all this unplanned activity caused major headaches for the book’s author and editors.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Dog lovers and Biden supporters. This is a pretty blue book and I can’t imagine it being very popular with Biden opponents, although pets do build bridges! I think children ages 4-8 interested in animal rescue would like this story.

Who should buy this book? Public libraries

Where would you shelve it? Picture books

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: September 30, 2021

This entry was posted in *Book Review, *Picture Book, Animal rescue, Dogs, Maribel Lechuga, Pets and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.