Book Review: Philomena's HomecomingJuly 18, 2010

Philomena’s Homecoming:
A (Mostly) True Story of a New York Prairie Dog’s Search for a Family

by Caryn Eve Murray
with illustrations by Rod L. Eyer
iUniverse, $8.95
ISBN 978-1-4502-2769-8
34 pages, including a few prairie dog facts and links for more information

Philomena's Homecoming, cover
Every so often a book comes along that is totally remarkable, and Caryn Eve Murray’s Philomena’s Homecoming fits that description perfectly.

Here we have a children’s story that not only has all the best aspects of a children’s story but also is suitable for people of all ages.

I could summarize the plot, but why spoil the fun? It is a fast read with Big Dangers until a happy resolution - the homecoming - is reached. The Big Dangers should not cause undue grief in a young child, but those dangers keep the momentum at a high pace throughout. (The true danger in Philomena is that you or your child will want to read it or have this heartwarming tale read again and again.)

Carefully embedded in the story is an important theme: wildlife rehabilitation. To be sure, the word rehabilitation is never mentioned. Nevertheless, it is worthwhile pausing at what it means.

Wildlife rehabilitators are licensed by state throughout the United States. Rehabbers rescue or help injured birds and animals. They are not paid for their work or their long hours, but they do maintain an ideal, which is to release any rescue back into the wild (although some rescued animals have to be kept for a variety of reasons).

And that’s the background which is never mentioned anywhere in the story. I don’t know how necessary it is to know the background; it certainly isn’t necessary to enjoy the story. But I cannot think of a better introduction to what wildlife rehabilitators do than what is contained in this brief children’s story.

I heartily recommend reading Philomena’s Homecoming, written from the viewpoint of a prairie dog. The words flow effortlessly, and the handsome illustrations complement the story. It will open your child or the child in you to a new world.

I bought my copy at Amazon, but Barnes and Noble sells it too. You can also check out Philomena's home page (and see a photograph of pretty Philomena).

Review by Chet Gottfried

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