Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Otis and the Puppy Book Review

Otis is back and better than ever in Otis and the Puppy by Loren Long.  The farm animals love playing with Otis after the work day is done.  Their favorite game?  Hide-and-seek of course!

One night, the farmer introduces the farm family to a new addition:  a puppy.  They eagerly soak up the sweet kisses that the pup is more than happy to provide.  Excited and exhausted, the team heads for the barn to call it a night.

Suddenly, Otis is awakened by a terrible sound.  It's the puppy!  He soon discovers that the cuddly canine is afraid of the dark and would much rather sleep inside the barn with him than in the wooden dog house.

The pair become fast friends.  Otis even teaches the pooch to play hide-and-seek.  During one such game, Otis has the honor of being "it."  He manages to find everyone...except the puppy.  Will Otis and the farm animals be able to track down the hound?

I absolutely love this book!  The story is full of heart.  Young and old alike will be able to relate to the theme of losing something that you love.  I was reminded about the time that my blind and deaf Dachshund escaped our fence and wandered across the street to the local daycare.  My world felt like it was crashing down around me in the brief five minutes that she was gone.

Long's illustrations are absolutely stunning.  Every page is truly a feast for the eyes.  From gorgeous rural pastures to nighttime scenes in the forest, I was captivated from start to finish.  He effortlessly brings the scenery and characters to life.

This is a wonderful story for readers ages 3-7 and for anyone who loves beautiful artwork.




My Pet Wants a Pet Book Review

My Pet Wants a Pet by Elise Broach follows the crazy antics of one boy in his quest to get a pet for his pet.  The boy is thrilled when his mother finally allows him to adopt a dog.  The pair become inseparable.

They have such fun together that the puppy decides he too would like a pet.  The boy's mother protests, but the pup soon returns with a furry orange kitten.  The unlikely friends quickly form a bond.  A bond so strong, that the kitten would like a pet of her own...

Will the perpetual presence of pets become too much to handle?

I adore this book!  Broach's story is filled with humor and heart.  I love the idea of a pet wanting a pet of its own.  I am reminded of my Chiweenie, Penny.  When we rescued a two-week-old kitten from the middle of Main Street, she remained glued to its side.  Penny raised the kitten as if it were her own pup.  The bonds between animals are truly amazing.

While the animals in the book are adorably cute, my favorite character is the mother.  As the pets begin to multiple, she starts to lose her cool but is secretly a softy at heart.  I can see a lot of my husband in her.  He always tells me, "No more pets!"  Until I bring home another furry creature that he soon falls in love with.

Eric Barclay's illustrations have a comic strip quality to them that is reminiscent of The Family Circus.  His characters are cute and endearing.  I especially love the detail that he put into the beret wearing worm and tiny little flea.  I also like his hilarious nod to Rodin's sculpture The Thinker.

This is a wonderful read for animal lovers of all ages.



Niblet & Ralph Book Review

Niblet & Ralph by Zachariah OHora follows the escapades of two mischievous cats.  The clever Calicos have figured out that they live in the same apartment building.  While they spend most of their days talking to each other on the phone, they soon decide to meet face to face.

Ralph uses a clothesline to make his way into Niblet's apartment.  Meanwhile, Niblet pounces on the perfect opportunity to race across the hall to see his friend.  Both cats decide to wait until the other returns.

When their owners, Gemma and Dilla, arrive home from school, they are shocked.  Ralph doesn't want his hello hug.  Niblet wants nothing to do with his favorite toy.  Clearly, the cats are fakes!  So why don't their parents believe that a catnapping has taken place?  Will Ralph and Niblet ever be able to go home?  

I greatly enjoyed reading this story.  The plot reminds me of a mixture of The Parent Trap meets The Prince and the Pauper.  OHora's characters are hilarious.  I love how their personalities shine through in their love of music and cheesy triangles.  This brought images of my own cats to mind.  They are definitely different from one another.

The illustrations and funky and fun.  OHora uses acrylic paint on Stonehenge printmaking paper to really make the images pop.  His use of a bold color palette draws in the reader's attention and is a true feast for the eyes.

I love the detail that OHora has put into the characters of Ralph and Niblet.  Their faces are mirrored opposites that can fool even the sharpest of readers.  This adds a very Where's Waldo element to the story.

This is a fun read for children ages 3-5. 



The Detective Dog Book Review

The Detective Dog by Julia Donaldson follows one super sleuth canine on a mission to solve a most puzzling mystery.  Detective Dog Nell loves solving crimes.  But that's just what she does Tuesday through Sunday.

On Mondays, she goes to school with her six-year-old boy, Peter.  The children read all sorts of wonderful stories to the popular pooch.  Nell's favorite books are the ones about dogs.

One Monday, Nell's sensitive sniffer detects a problem.  Racing inside, she and Peter discover that all of the books have been stolen.  Will the dynamic duo be able to find the clues and recover the stolen property?

I greatly enjoyed reading this book.  I love the idea of a mystery solving canine that uses its nose to snuff out crime.  Donaldson's characters are smart and lovable.  Nell's larger than life personality definitely tickles my funny bone.  I wasn't expecting for the text to be in rhyme, but it adds a fun musicality to the mystery.

I also love that Donaldson includes children reading to Nell as part of the story.  As a certified therapy dog handler, this is a program that is close to my heart.  I hope that more schools will open their doors to therapy dog teams as the benefits of children reading to dogs is truly monumental.

Sara Ogilvie's illustrations are amazing.  Her style appears to be ink with watercolor.  Each image pops off of the page and will certainly delight young and old readers alike.  I love how expressive she made Nell's ears.  My favorite illustration is the vignette of a boy reading a book about knights to Nell.

This is a fun, furry mystery read for children ages 3-6.  I can't wait to read about Nell's next adventure!



Madeline Finn and the Library Dog Book Review

Madeline Finn and the Library Dog by Lisa Papp tells the tale of one girl's journey to become a better reader.  Madeline hates to read.  Book, magazines, menus on ice cream trucks.  She wants no part of the reading scene.

Ms. Finn has a secret.  She has trouble reading.  Words become a jumbled mess on the page.  Her mouth traps sentences like flies in a frog's tongue.  She stutters and stumbles doing her very best.  Still, her classmates laugh at her.

All Madeline wants is the coveted gold star from her teacher.  But the Keep Trying hearts are piling up fast.  One Saturday, her mom takes her to the worst place ever:  the library.  Mrs. Dimple, the librarian, has a trick up her sleeve that might just change the way Madeline reads forever.

I love this book!  The story is full of compassion and heart.  While I never struggled with reading, one of the elementary students I mentored while in high school did.  He tried so hard to get the words right, but his lisp and speech impediment made it difficult.  I wish Bonnie could have visited him.

Being the owner of a certified therapy dog, this story definitely has a special place in my heart.  While we have not yet tried the reading program, I know how much children love dogs and open up to them with free hearts and minds.  My dog and I visited a kids' club that had an Autistic little boy.  The club workers were shocked when he ran over to my dog and not only touched her but spoke to me.  They then informed me that that was the first time they had ever heard the boy speak.

The story shows just how amazing dogs truly are.  They make no judgments and place no blame.  Dogs only love unconditionally and hope to have their affections returned.  They are the perfect companion and reading buddy.

Papp's illustrations are gorgeous.  They remind me of the original artwork from the A.A. Milne Winnie-the-Pooh books.  I especially love the colorful cast of canine characters.  I also like how the illustration styles are different on every page.  Some are single page spreads, others are doubles, some feature vignettes, and more.  This really captured my attention and made me pause to enjoy each one.

This is a fabulous story for (especially struggling) readers ages  4-8.  I could definitely see this book also being used in therapy dog programs throughout the country.



Old Hat Book Review

Old Hat by Emily Gravett follows one pioneering pooch as he seeks to find the ultimate hat.  Harbet loves wearing the hat that his Nana knitted for him.  It's cozy, colorful, and keeps his ears warm.  But the fact is, it's an old hat.

Harbet noticed a group of trend-setting animals wearing fruit hats.  He quickly donned the new topper, but soon discovered that hat was now old too!  Trying to stay ahead in the world of fashion is hard work!

He bought Top Hat Magazine to research the trends.  He camped outside of the hat shop so he could have first pick of the caps.  His hat selections were still seen as old and out-dated.  Will Harbet ever find a way out of the hat havoc? 

I absolutely adore this book!  Gravett's story is full of humor and heart.  Young and old alike will relate to Harbet's struggle of keeping up appearances in a fashion-frenzied world.

Gravett's illustrations are gorgeous.  The characters she has created are truly memorable.  Harbet couldn't be any more adorable.  He actually reminds me of my Chiweenie, Penny, who has a severe overbite.

I love how much detail is contained on every page.  From the tiniest trim on a hat, to the actual articles in the Top Hat Magazine, Gravett shows a mastery of the drawing craft.

This is a wonderful book for readers of all ages.  The ending really packs a positive punch and serves as a great reminder to adults as well.




Monday, July 9, 2018

The Christmas Kitten Book Review

The Christmas Kitten by Jessica Spawn follows the adventures of one homeless kitten on Christmas Eve.  Kitten is on the prowl searching for food on a cold winter's night.  He keeps dreaming of a family of his own and a warm place to call home.

Suddenly, a large bird finds Kitten and knows what his Christmas feast will be.  Kitten can't believe his eyes when three of Santa's reindeer fly in and save the day.  The reindeer can't help but notice that instead of being happy, Kitten is sad.

He explains that he has no home and is tired of being alone.  Prancer knows exactly what to do.  Fashioning a pair of antlers from two nearby sticks, he makes Kitten a part of their team.

Will Santa be fooled by this furry farce?  Can Kitten learn the ways of the reindeer before Santa's magical flight?

I absolutely love this book!  The story definitely tugged at my heartstrings and made me tear up.  Being the owner of three rescue cats, I know what a horrible life they had before they were rescued from the streets.  Cat over population is a nationwide issue that is beautifully summed up in the book.

I also love that the story rhymes.  For some reason, Christmas stories that rhyme seem more magical to me.  Children will be drawn to the musicality of the text in addition to the magic and mystery.

Benjamin Vincent's illustrations are adorable and stunning.  I fell in love with Kitten the moment I saw the cover of the book.  His over-sized eyes really pull the reader in creating even more empathy for him.  The comic book style quality of the illustrations will definitely keep children engaged and excited about turning the page.

This is a fabulous story for animal lovers of all ages.  I think this book could also be used as part of the humane education curriculum in animal shelters and rescue groups across the country.