A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Shows Biden getting a dog from an animal shelter. Back matter explains more about how and why someone might adopt a shelter pet. Shows how an older dog adapts to a new dog and helps teach him "everything he knows." Shows glimpses of life on the campaign trail (where reporters wear masks as they cover an event) and at the White House. Includes timeline of presidential pets from Washington to Obama. (President Donald Trump was the first president in 120 years not to have a dog in the White House.) Explanation in back matter about how many shelters let you foster a pet before adopting it, to see if it's a good fit. That's what the Bidens did with Major.
"When work is over, it's time to play!" Dogs help make sure you don't work all the time.
Positive Role Models
Joe Biden looks kind and cheerful, always sporting a big smile. He's shown leaving the Delaware Humane Association's animal shelter with his adopted shelter dog, Major. He's shown at a campaign event with vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris (though she's not named in the text). White House staffers are shown with Champ; a woman with brown skin who's carrying briefing papers pats Major on the head, and a White chef shakes his paw and gives him a bone. "Everyone there does important work, but they always have time to say hello!"
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Joy McCullough's Champ and Major: First Dogs is about President Joe Biden's pets. It starts with German shepherd Champ at home with Biden and his wife, Jill (though she's not named), and then shows Biden bringing home a shelter dog, a German shepherd puppy named Major. Champ shows the puppy the ropes and eventually the White House, which he had visited when Biden served as vice president. The book ends with the two dogs curled up asleep in the Oval Office as President Biden is working at his desk. Back matter includes a timeline of presidential pets from George Washington through Barack Obama. There's also information about adopting a shelter pet.
Is It Any Good?
This cute, cheerful story of family pets that become residents of the White House is charming and simple and carries a positive message about adopting shelter animals. As we learn in the author's note, Champ lived with the Bidens in the vice president's residence during the Obama presidency. Ten years later, in 2018, they adopted Major, now the first shelter pet ever to live at the White House.
The story is thin, lacking details about what Biden's important job is, or who that woman in her suit and Converse sneakers sharing the stage with him is, so adults will need to fill in some blanks as they read aloud. But Sheyda Abvabi Best's cartoon art is adorable and its pastel palette appealing. And the canine main characters deserve a big pat on the head.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.