"A compassionate, humorous animal tale."– Kirkus Reviews
In this sequel, five dogs and two cats, who previously collaborated on a theatrical endeavor, travel to New Zealand to put on a show.
In her first children’s book, Sieglinde C. Othmer (Whims, Wits, and Whiskers, 2012, etc.), a published scholar of clinical psychiatry and psychology, combined her professional background and passion for animals in a humorous, pet-centered tale promoting friendship, personal growth, and creativity. The dogs and cats, who staged a production in a Missouri forest in their debut outing, continue learning life lessons in this sequel. The group takes its creative talents much farther afield—to a sheep farm in New Zealand. The animals’ new show has a purpose: to raise awareness for endangered kiwi birds. Transported to New Zealand in baskets carried by giant condors (a highly enjoyable bit of whimsy), the band includes wise Mr. Guinness, a Lab/pit bull; tenderhearted, shy Lexi, a Shih Tzu; Bailey, a peaceable Lab; the smart and snarky terrier Rosie; brash, hyperactive, and gassy George, a basset hound/beagle mix; French-speaking black cat Miles; and tabby Cosmo. Making new friends on the sheep farm, the group learns that stoats are threatening the kiwis in their forest habitat. Bashful Lexi is in the spotlight, finding strength through her compassion for the not-so-evil stoats and leading the band to a solution that works for all. As the story unfolds, the animals learn and grow while confronting and comforting one another through various conflicts, challenges, and triumphs. These vividly depicted, humanlike animal characters—who can use computers, wield paintbrushes, sing, and dance—are stand-ins for readers of any age struggling with similar self-doubts or other anxieties. Although a tone of benign lecturing is more prevalent here than in the preceding book, the author’s captivating alternative reality resonates with reassurance and coping strategies. Rosean (Whims, Wits, and Whiskers, 2012) again offers witty visual accompaniments to the text with deftly rendered ink and graphite drawings. Small images of flora and fauna, sketched with realistic details by debut illustrator Julia Othmer, are sprinkled throughout. (A warning: when overwhelmed by emotions, George uses the words “damn” and “bastards.”)
While some mild moralizing creeps in at times, this real world–based animal fantasy delivers resonant lessons in character-building and conflict resolution with humor and heart.
Dogs and cats team up and put on a show in an endearing celebration of friendship, cooperation and creativity for children by clinical psychiatry and psychology scholar Othmer (The Clinical Interview Using DSM-IV-TR Vol. 2, 2002, etc.).
A California family reunion brings together seven idiosyncratic pets—wise Labrador/pit bull Mr. Guinness; compassionate shih tzu Lexi; spunky Tibetan terrier Rosie; bumptious (and gassy) beagle/bassett hound George; kindly yellow Lab Bailey; and suave tomcats Cosmo and Miles. The big question is how to pass the time, and, through trial and error, the animals—captured with artistic wit by illustrator Rosean—discover their individual talents. After the group lets loose in a cacophonous song-and-dance frenzy, some hummingbirds teach them to sing and perform in harmony. (The author includes two jaunty original tunes at the book’s website.) The friends decide to perform a show, but have difficulty deciding on a location. Cosmo votes for the Galápagos Islands; George prefers Africa, with a post-show hunt for wildebeests and elephants. Discouragement sets in when they realize they have no means of travel, but Bailey comforts them, using real-world coping skills that Othmer imparts with lightness and humor (“Just because we can’t figure out right now how to get there doesn’t mean we will never know”). The pets eventually live their dream of performing when the human master of the house flies them to a woodsy Missouri city. The friends learn about themselves throughout their give-and-take creative process, and their story is enlivened by anthropomorphic animal behavior: Alpha dog Mr. Guinness makes lists with pencil and pad, Miles and Cosmo are tango experts, Cosmo carries a “mouse leather satchel.” The book warmly encourages self-discovery, and it’s a satisfying journey.
A compassionate, humorous animal tale.