As a teacher at the Robert J. Christen School (P.S. 81) for over 30 years, Linda Griffin read books like The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Amelia Bedelia to countless kindergartners and first-grade students.
Now it is a book by Ms. Griffin herself that students are checking out of their school libraries.
Adopting Ginger tells the story of a family that takes in a shelter dog named Ginger. Fictional 10-year-old Emma narrates the book, which describes Ginger’s transformation from a dog who is too timid to eat or walk up the driveway to a well-adjusted, happy pet.
The book recently won second place in the Purple Dragonfly Book Awards contest, recognizing excellence in children’s literature, in the pet/animal category.
“Writing the book was a great way for me to combine my love of children and animals,” said the 71-year-old author. “I recommend it highly to retired people if you want to be busy.”
Ms. Griffin based the book on her daughter and son-in-law’s experience with a dog they adopted — also named Ginger.
The real Ginger, who is now 3 years old, faced the same issues as her fictional counterpart when she first arrived at her home, but Ms. Griffin and her family worked to assuage their pet’s fears.
“It was heartwarming to see the transformation in the dog,” she said.
Her book describes the small steps Emma and her family take to make Ginger comfortable — speaking to her softly, petting her gently and lining the driveway with treats to ease her journey up the asphalt path.
Though Emma fears her family will return Ginger to the shelter, her parents reassure her.
“Ginger is now a member of our family,” Emma’s father says in the story.
It took a family effort to bring the book to fruition. Her son-in-law snapped the cover photo — featuring the real Ginger — and her niece Iliana, 14 at the time, drew the illustrations.
Ms. Griffin, a dog lover, refers to the real-life Ginger as her “grand-dog.” She has her own dog, Sophia, also adopted from a shelter.
“Shelter dogs make awesome pets,” she said.