Tag: pets

Hey Boy by Benjamin Strouse

Hey Boy by Benjamin Strouse

Hey Boy by Benjamin Strouse, illustrated by Jennifer Phelan (9781481471015, Amazon)

A boy finds a dog and takes him home. The two of them love playing together, but then the boy gets hurt. The dog is taken to an animal shelter and someone else adopts him. The boy is told that he simply isn’t old enough yet to care for a dog. Happily, the boy still gets to visit the dog and tries to grow up fast enough to take him back. As time passes, the boy grows up and the dog ages. When the dog is finally too much for his adoptive family, the boy is given the chance to take him. This book is an allegory for the love of pets and the unbreakable bonds they forge.

Strouse writes in prose that is simple and straight forward. Yet the story is much more of a fable, one that doesn’t follow logic but emotion instead. The story is about the bond between human and animal, one that defies time and distance to keep connections fresh and strong. Strouse embraces this even as he tells it in his simple prose, hinting at the true depths of emotion that lie beneath.

Phelan’s illustrations make this book sing. From the dogs in the shelter that are striped with bars to the way the black dog is such a strong graphic on the page, her images are iconic and beautiful. They match the simple prose with their own profound simplicity, allowing the white space on the page to speak too.

Strong illustrations make this allegory all the better to share with children and adults who love their pets. Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from copy received from Margaret K. McElderry Books.

Colette’s Lost Pet by Isabelle Arsenault

Colette's Lost Pet by Isabelle Arsenault

Colette’s Lost Pet by Isabelle Arsenault (9781101917596, Amazon)

Colette has moved to a new neighborhood and her parents won’t let her have a pet. She angrily kicks a box over the fence and meets some new kids. Colette wants to be friends but doesn’t have any good answer for them when they ask what she is doing, so she invents a pet that she has lost, a parakeet. The children take her to meet other neighbors who can help her find her pet. One after another the children help and then Colette adds to her fib. Her pet soon has specific colors, a name, a sound it makes, and a poster to help find it. Then Colette’s fib grows into a full-blown story. How will the others react when they realize she’s made the entire thing up?

Done in graphic novel style, this picture book is a delightful mix of a story about moving to a new place, the impact of telling lies and making new friends. Colette’s small fib grows far beyond what she had ever intended as she tries to cover up that she was frustrated and angry. With each new person involved, the lie builds to the find crescendo where it turns into something else entirely, something shared and wonderful despite how it all began.

The illustrations have a unique feel to them. They are done in blues and grays with pops of yellow in Colette’s jacket, small touches in the neighborhood and the color of her imaginary pet. This limited palette is beautifully done, the blues and yellows vibrant against the subtler grays.

A great graphic novel pick for young readers, this book looks at large themes with kindness and grace. Appropriate for ages 5-7.

Reviewed from e-galley received from Edelweiss and Tundra Books.

 

I Got a New Friend by Karl Newsom Edwards

I Got a New Friend by Karl Newsom Edwards

I Got a New Friend by Karl Newsom Edwards (9780399557019, Amazon)

A little girl gets a new puppy and the two of them work to become friends. At first the puppy is scared, but she quickly becomes more friendly. The two play outside together, nap on the chair after making a mess, and sometimes get stinky. The puppy gets lost and then found again. They get dirty and wash up. They make noise and give tons of kisses and hugs.

Edwards uses frank and simple text to tell the story of the two new friends in this book. The little girl narrates the book and tells it from her point of view. The illustrations though show the entire story which is that she is getting just as dirty as the puppy, making just as much noise and eating just as sloppily. This clever twist adds to the pleasure of reading the book and will be enjoyed by young readers.

A warm welcome to a new pet, this picture book is a celebration of newfound friends. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from e-galley received from Edelweiss and Knopf Books for Young Readers.

The Lost Kitten by Lee

The Lost Kitten by Lee

The Lost Kitten by Lee, illustrated by Komako Sakai (9781776571260, Amazon)

Originally published in Japan, this picture book demonstrates compassion and empathy as a mother and daughter, Hina, take in a lost kitten. A stray mother cat brings her kitten to their doorstep, scrawny with goopy eyes. Hina would prefer a cute kitten from a pet store. They care for the little kitten, give it some milk and Hina holds it and listens to its purr. Her mother heads out for milk, leaving Hina to care for the kitten. But when Hina turns back, the kitten has disappeared. Hina thinks of the time that she too got lost, knowing what the little cat must be feeling. She knows she has to help.

Lee’s text is gentle and moving. The connection between child and kitten is delicately created, anchored by their similar experiences of being lost. Lee allows the story to play out, using a light touch as the story spins and giving the reader the space to make connections themselves.

The illustrations by Sakai are equally gentle and expressive. Done in pastel colors with strong textural lines that carry from one image to the next. The kitten is depicted with real care, its bones almost showing through its fur. Tiny and fragile, it still fills the pages with hope.

Beautiful and delicate, this picture book is filled with compassion and love. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Gecko Press.

Princess Cora and the Crocodile by Laura Amy Schlitz

Princess Cora and the Crocodile by Laura Amy Schlitz

Princess Cora and the Crocodile by Laura Amy Schlitz, illustrated by Brian Floca (9780763648220, Amazon)

A Newbery Medalist and a Caldecott Medalist join forces in this wonderful mashup of princess tale and crocodile naughtiness. Cora is a princess who tries her best to do what her father the king and her mother the queen want. She takes three baths a day, studies dull books about finance, and exercises by jumping rope. Over and over again, day after day, until she simply can’t take it anymore. So she writes to her fairy godmother and asks for a pet. But when she opens the box, it’s an enormous crocodile rather than a dog. The princess and crocodile switch places for a day and chaos ensues. The princess has a lovely messy day outdoors exploring and playing. The crocodile meanwhile forces the nanny into the bathtub, locks the queen in the library with only the dull books, and chews on the king in a most sensitive spot! Still, a crocodile may be exactly what this royal family needs.

Schlitz is a chameleon of an author, moving with grace and skill from one sort of format to another. Here she seemingly effortlessly creates a chapter book for newer readers that reveals from the very cover that there is great fun inside. The brilliant and highly unusual combination of princess story with dresses and crowns with a crocodile who isn’t afraid to bite royal ankles and bottoms is pure brilliance. This is a princess book that I would merrily give to any child whether they enjoy princesses or not, after all, there’s a funny crocodile who makes it all wild and wonderful.

Floca’s art is an impressive pairing here. He runs with the mashup of princess and crocodile, the art having a serious tone at first as the royal family is depicted in all of their earnest childraising. The Victorian feel of the book is perfection, until the crocodile appears. Then a green wildness comes into the story, filling it with sharp teeth and plenty of attitude. Floca’s art though is broad enough to fit Victorian rules with crocodile play on the same page with hilarious results. It’s the play of the rules and formality against the silliness that makes the art such a joy.

A great chapter book pick, share this one aloud in a classroom because it will appeal to all readers! Appropriate for ages 6-8.

Reviewed from copy received from Candlewick Press.

A Cat Named Swan by Holly Hobbie

a-cat-named-swan-by-holly-hobbie

A Cat Named Swan by Holly Hobbie (9780553537444)

This is the story of a small kitten, who was suddenly alone on the city streets. He learned a lot about the dangers, scavenged for food, and survived. Until one day, he was taken off of the streets and put into a cage. There was plenty of food there though and no one was mean to him. Soon afterwards, he was adopted. And that is where his life changed. It became a series of perfect days. Days that started with breakfast, were filled with exploring the garden, had visits and naps, and ended with everyone returning home in the evening. Each day became night with him curled on a pillow fast asleep.

This picture book shows the harrowing life of a small kitten alone outside. Then it becomes a rescue and adoption story, one that is pure joy after the rescue takes place. The kitten learns about his new family, the dog, and the garden and house that are his too. There are small adventures, plenty of pleasures like just being with one another and bumblebees. It’s a picture book about small joys and the wonder of having a pet.

Hobbie’s illustrations are filled with energy and carry emotions clearly. The image of the kitten being lifted by his family for the first time is pure sunshine and blue sky. Readers know right then and there not to worry any longer. When they see the gardens and land, they realize that Swan has landed in kitten nirvana.

A testament to the power of animal adoption and the joy of a life well lived. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from e-galley received from Edelweiss and Random House Books for Young Readers.

 

Lola Gets a Cat by Anna McQuinn

lola-gets-a-cat-by-anna-mcquinn

Lola Gets a Cat by Anna McQuinn, illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw

Released February 14, 2017.

Continuing the Lola series, this book is all about Lola wanting a pet of her own. Lola’s mother says that cats are a lot of work, so Lola researches about cats and starts to practice on her stuffed toy cat, Dinah. Eventually, her mother agrees that Lola can have her own cat. They go to the shelter where one cat picks out Lola. The family shops for all of the items they will need to take care of their new pet. Lola practices a lot of patience, letting her new pet settle in before trying to play. The two of them steadily become great friends with lots of snuggles.

There is a gorgeous warmth to all of the Lola books and this one is no exception. The strong family dynamic is shown once again here as well with Lola’s parents making sure that she is capable of caring for a pet before allowing her to have one. The book has a strong focus not only on Lola’s wishes for a pet but on the importance of allowing the pet to be happy as well.

Beardshaw’s illustrations are full of small details that add to the warm feel. There are drawings of cats around the rooms. Lola’s interest in cats is evident from her patterned pajamas to the barrette in her hair to the decorations in her room. As she practices to own a cat, the emphasis is on effort not perfection as Lola spills water. All of these elements add up to show children that they too can one day care for an animal in their own way.

A lovely book about pet ownership that shows the importance of giving a new pet space and time to find their own way. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Charlesbridge.