Winner of the 2011 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award
Gold Medal for Most Humane Book
Author Nancy Furstinger
Illustrator Joe Hyatt
The Gryphon Press
Picture Book, Hardcover, 24 pp
In a compelling story, movingly illustrated, the issue of animal abandonment is brought to life. Maggie, a pregnant lab mix, is left behind in an abandoned house. Discovered by the realtor, Maggie is brought to the pound where her puppies are born.
When Jeff, a fourth-grader, reads a newspaper story about Maggie’s puppies being adopted while Maggie is not, he learns from his teacher that Maggie will be euthanized if no one adopts her. This knowledge galvanizes Jeff and his classmates to successfully plan and petition their town council to build an animal shelter. Maggie is given her second chance—taken to the new town shelter, where she is eventually adopted.
Maggie’s Second Chance is based on the true story of Texas fourth-graders who, with their teacher’s assistance, founded an animal shelter named DAWGS in their town. The final page offers factual comprehensive information on how to help abandoned dogs.
School Library Journal
This is a heartwarming story of a sweet black lab mix named Maggie who is left behind when her owners move away. Based on a true story of a group of fourth graders, this is an inspiring story of social justice, action, and agency. The text is accessible, and the illustrations of the animals are done in photorealistic detail.
Based on a true story, this selection tells the story of an abandoned dog and how a group of children fought to build a shelter in order to save her. Realistic, detailed illustrations show Maggie with longing, sorrowful eyes that follow readers through the pages. A nice example of how empowered children can really make a difference, this earnest, heartfelt selection will inspire children to start their own efforts.
Maggie's Second Chance is the touching, and all-too-common, story of a dog abandoned when a family moves and heartlessly leaves behind the dog or cat. The illustrations are lovingly and beautifully done, as is the prose. "She was alone as the stars twinkled and then dimmed. Logs in the woodstove turned to smoke. Wind trailed icy fingers against the windows."
This story, based on a true story about DAWGS (Dalhart Animal Wellness Group and Sanctuary), a shelter inspired by and started by fourth graders, is not only touching but also inspirational. It illustrates the power of caring and the power of a caring teacher and children. This book is a great springboard for teaching lessons of compassion to students.
Adults will need to hold on to their heart as they read this particular book, which does not shy away from the very difficult subject matter of shelter issues. However, through the author’s sensitivity there is an impressive dignity that accrues throughout the telling of Maggie’s story. The appealing illustrations lend themselves well to the story and depict Maggie as a gentle, patient, loyal girl. This fictional story is based on elements of a couple of true ones that have been woven together, but of course, not all animals (especially big black dogs) are lucky enough to find homes.
Based on a true story in which Texas fourth graders learn about the plight of homeless dogs in their town and mobilize adults to open a no-kill shelter, this Moonbeam Award-winning book employs spare, incisive prose and realistic illustration to touch, inspire, and educate readers. Without shying away from harsh facts, Furstinger delivers a potent tale with both shadows and a happy ending.
Humane Education Advocates Reaching Teachers
Maggie’s Second Chance, which is based on a true story, is an inspiring book that demonstrated the far-reaching potential of humane education. When we teach students about crucial animal welfare issues and encourage compassionate behavior, we can empower them to become impressive agents of change. I believe this book would be a wonderful addition to any elementary school library and highly recommend it to teachers and parents.
Dogs Deserve Better
Who can resist Maggie? When you read about her in this delightful tale, you, too, will want to throw your arms around her and give her a big hug. Maggie’s success is the success all rescuers live for: the dog who, against all odds, comes out on top due to human compassion and perseverance. I loved it!
Association of Humane Educators
This book, special in many ways, effectively tells the story of an abandoned dog—an all-too-common plight—for a young audience. Maggie’s Second Chance also introduces the concept of community service by sharing the story of how young people come together and improve conditions for the animals in their area. To echo Margaret Mead, this is a force we should not underestimate.
How Dogs Help Kids Read and Succeed in the Classroom
This is a wonderful book to help open children’s eyes to ways they can get involved in helping animals in their own community, and may inspire classrooms of children from across the nation to do their small part. Just imagine the impact we could make – and how many dogs’ lives we could save – if everyone did just one small thing. Thank you, Nancy Furstinger and Joel Hyatt, for such an inspirational and meaningful book for children and their adults.
Read more about Maggie at the following sites:
Maggie’s Second Chance: A Gentle Dog’s Rescue is now a selected Braille Tail book:
And has a free curriculum guide by the Humane Society, From Nose to Tail: Lessons to Inspire Care and Compassion for Dogs: