The Innkeeper’s Dog: Deborah Bence Boerema
Everyone wants to feel important, needed, special and most of all loved. Thaniel the Spaniel is a precious dog that lives in a stable located behind an inn in Bethlehem. But, Thaniel is special in his own way yet feels conflicted as he hears stories from the other animals living within the stable about a special baby or child born that they witnessed but he did not. Imagine being there when Jesus was born. Living there with his mother, a sheep, donkey, a red cow and doves, Thaniel felt crowded, cramped and often wanted something more. Talking to himself he lets readers know that he does appreciate what he has like the food or scraps he gets from the innkeeper’s table, the roof over his head and having a mother who loves him. But, Thaneil has been listening to the other animals talk about a special night where a special child was born. Listening to them talk about how shepherds and kinds came to the stable and knelt before the baby only made him wish that he had been part of that night too. Poor Thaniel was really sad as he listened to the other animals tell what gifts they presented to the child and what deeds they performed.
Every child wants security, love and to feel special and the more he listened to the others talk about their experiences the more he felt left out, unloved and sad. Each gift and each story did not endear him to the other animals but made him feel jealous, angry and all alone.
This is a story about feeling wanted, understanding differences, love, friendship, trust and most of all compassion. But, Thaneil did not have to wait long before things changed as the Innkeeper’s son came into his stable and told him that now he would be working with him to help protect the sheep. The Innkeeper’s son was a shepherd and needed someone to help him in the fields. Thaniel was excited because his first task was to carry some figs home for the innkeeper’s son’s mother. Hanging the cloth with the figs over Thaniel’s back allowed him to carry them home safely. But, that was just the first of many things that Thaniel did to earn his keep and prove that he was not only capable of helping the young boy but smart, astute and quite perceptive. Imagine spotting a wolf behind a bolder and bringing the sheep to safety. Wait until you hear and read what happened when he got tangled with some thorns and how that helped save the sheep.
Although Thaniel was proud of his accomplishments they paled in comparison to missing the birth of Baby Jesus. What happens when he learns about a special party and celebration to remember his birth? What gift would he give? Everyone has a purpose in life and everyone has his or her own special and unique talents. But, Thaniel did not feel that he had any. But, when he tells his mother how he feels and why wait until you learn the truth behind that night and what the other animals do to make him feel special. How did the Innkeeper’s son help Thaniel understand just how important he was to him and to everyone? What special event did they create just for him? Why couldn’t he present the child with a gift? How was this explained to him to make him understand that his work with the Innkeeper’s son was valuable, important, and useful and definitely did show his worth and purpose.
Thaniel learned a special secret about that night and just why he was more than just a spaniel but a precious gift presented to the child that night and why the Innkeeper decided to raise him as his own. Everyone wants to feel loved and special on his or her birthday and wait until you learn what the young boy does to show his love, appreciation and special affection for Thaniel. Where does he take him and why? What lessons does he learn and will Thaniel finally realize just how special, smart and unique he is to everyone? This is a book that young children can identify with as so many have negative experiences, feelings and often do not know how to cope or deal with them in order to have a positive outcome. Rather than yell, insult or make Thaniel feel unwanted and upset about his feelings the other animals prove their loyalty and friendship by helping him understand why he is special and why at the time he could not present gifts to the newborn child but why he was so needed now. Dealing with anger, jealousy and learning to understand your own emotions are just some of the issues and lessons brought to light in this special holiday book. Helping others, using our talents in a positive way and realizing that everyone has their own special present that has been bestowed upon them, author Deborah Bence Boerema brings all of this to light through Thaniel. But, even more the illustrations help make the story come to life with colorful pictures that will help non-readers understand the story just by looking at the pictures and listening to someone read it to them. The facial expressions are priceless helping young children and adults understand Thaniel’s emotions. If you visit the author’s website she has listed some invaluable resources for parents, teachers, guidance counselors, discussion groups and more. This is a great story to teach self-esteem, self-worth, friendship, loyalty, parental guidance and love. A great book for the holidays and a great book to make you smile.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ Magazine
Let’s give this book: FIVE GOLDEN HUGS for Thaniel