In Meglio’s debut children’s picture book, a 6-year-old dog moves to a new home and becomes a big sister to a new puppy.
Change can pose a great hurdle for children. Meglio’s story presents a positive view of life transitions that adults may use as a springboard for conversations with kids. Cocoa Bear, a fluffy Bernese Mountain dog, contentedly lives with her owner, “Mom,” in New York City—happily lapping up attention from passersby; going on walks with her “boyfriend” Tiberius, a golden retriever; and having rollicking good times with other dogs in Central Park. But one day, Mom moves the family to a new home in rural Connecticut. Initially, Cocoa Bear is sad and scared, fretting over how she’ll get along without her friends and anxious about challenges she’ll face in the new setting. But she soon discovers the upsides of country living: “I didn’t need a leash. I could bury bones all over the place....I didn’t have to ride in a crowded elevator.” Then, just as she’s settled in at last, Mom adds a new Bernese puppy, Bennie, to the household. Children will likely relate to Cocoa Bear’s conflicted feelings; she’s jealous that the spotlight is no longer on her and upset that her territory has been invaded (“He took over my favorite chair and my special blanket”). After a major snowstorm hits, Cocoa Bear grumbles about having to dig Bennie out of a snowdrift and, later, rescue him from atop a picnic table. But young readers will sense that Cocoa Bear has actually taken to Bennie and is quickly growing into her new role as older sibling. When springtime comes, she teaches the young pup lots of things: “How to scare the delivery men; how to dig a hole big enough to crawl into; and how to sneak up on ducks and drink the pond water.” Cocoa Bear is depicted as an expressive, sympathetic character, and her humorous observations and remarks will likely have children laughing. Accompanying photographs illustrate the two dogs’ irresistible antics, although some are a tad blurry; well-chosen clip art adds a fun dash to the visuals.
A delightful children’s tale about a dog adapting to change.