A New Leash on Life by Kara Hamilton
Posted April 19, 2016on:
A New Leash on Life is a cute picture book with an important message about how children should behave around dogs. Written by Kara Hamilton, the story was inspired by her own experience as a new mom who wanted the family’s dog to live peacefully with their newborn baby. The rhyming style is forced, and the plot has flaws, but telling the story from the poodle’s point of view is creative. A New Leash on Life is an educational and entertaining book for toddlers.
By telling the story of Smokey, her apricot poodle, Kara Hamilton advocates for dogs to have forever homes. In the beginning, Smokey enjoys attention from his family. They cuddle him, play ball with him, take him on park dates, and spoil him with delicious foods. These examples show how a dog fits into an average family. Then a major change happens. A baby arrives and Smokey gets neglected. His owners no longer walk, groom, or play with him. Even worse, the baby torments him. Through all these examples, Hamilton shows sympathy for why Smokey begins to act out. Families will begin to understand why their furry friend might start to misbehave. In fiction form, A New Leash on Life provides insight into an all too common dilemma that happens to families and their dogs, as well as provides a solution.
Unfortunately, while the story will no doubt be well-embraced by the intended audience of toddlers and preschoolers, they’re also likely outgrow it due to problems with the style and plot. With regards to the plot, the rhymes themselves mostly work, but the story lacks rhythm when read aloud. Also, there aren’t really any catchy phrases that stick in one’s head. With regards to the plot, while I enjoyed having Smokey as the lead character, the couple should have taken more an active role in helping Smokey live peacefully with their new baby. They neglect Smokey after the arrival of their baby and don’t seem to have time again for him until he suddenly starts acting nice. Then there’s the issue of their baby, who Smokey is left to teach how to behave around him. There are already many families who think that their dogs come in perfect perfects and so neglect to train them. I worry that Hamilton’s story might reinforce this message.
As an introduction to a discussion about how to better integrate pets when changes happen, A New Leash on Life is a good place to start. The story makes for a fun read, while the back pages contain a Question and Answer section with the moms of The Humane Society of the United States. As an added perk, 10% of the profits of this picture book supports animal welfare.