The Problem with the Puddles

The Problem with the Puddles by Kate Feiffer, illustrated by Tricia Tusa

Baby’s parents agree to disagree about everything.  This means that they could not agree on a name for her when she was born.  Her mother calls her Emily and her father calls her Ferdinanda.  Everyone else calls her by the name on her birth certificate written by a nurse: Baby.  They have two dogs because her parents couldn’t agree on which type of dog to get.  They did agree on the name, Sally, so both dogs are named that.  Mr. Puddle loves the country while Mrs. Puddle loves the city, so they have homes in both.  In their hurry to leave for the city, the family forgets the dogs.  The parents disagree on whether to turn back or not.  Meanwhile, the two Sallys have realized they are forgotten and try to fix the problem themselves.  This whimsical, funny and clever novel begs to be shared.

I just love clever books.  Books that ask children to stretch a bit and reach.  The fact that this one does it in such a subtle way makes it all the more clever.  Through the lens of a light, illustrated story, children get to see a dysfunctional couple, a father who has lost his son because of lies, and a family desperately in need of a cleaning staff.  All serious subjects handled with a deftness and skill that allow the readers to stay above it all.  Lots to discuss here, the book has great writing that reads aloud with ease as well as friendly, inviting illustrations that capture the style of the writing perfectly.

Recommended as a read aloud, this book also reads alone well.  The problem here is that I don’t know if a second book is in the works or not!  That’s the problem with the Puddles!  Appropriate for ages 7-10.


Stolen by Vivian Vande Velde.

On the same day a witch is chased to her home and it is set on fire, a girl walks out of the forest.  Isabelle seems to be a girl who was stolen from the local village six years ago.  But Isabella can’t remember anything at all.  Her family takes her in and as Isabella learns more about them, her own past is slowly revealed to her.  Is she Isabella?  Or is she someone else?  And what role does the evil witch play in all of this?

For such a brief book, this novel has intrigue, mystery and twists galore.  Readers will enjoy the character of Isabella who though confused about her own past sees others with great clarity.  The villains in the novel are deliciously evil, roles are complex and twists are built up to but not foreseen.  Even those who can predict who Isabella is will not see parts of the ending coming.  How wonderful to be right but to be surprised too.

Recommended for readers who like a good thriller.  The cover alone guarantees that this will fly off the shelves.  It also has enough depth to be a good discussion book around Halloween.  Appropriate for ages 12-14.