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FLEABAG by Helen Stephens Kirkus Star


by Helen Stephens & illustrated by Helen Stephens

Pub Date: July 20th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-8050-8975-2
Publisher: Henry Holt

Two kindred souls find friendship and home in this heartwarming tale. A frisky, fleabag of a dog—he has no name and no person—loves the park, even though he’s shunned and shooed. It’s there he finds his boy, but the child’s family is about to move. Determined that they not be separated, the boy tries to run away. Happily, the plucky mutt saves the day, and the boy and his people become his family. Playful and emotive, the illustrations are done with washes of color in a muted, primary-color palette and textured by pencil marks or brushstrokes. Stephens’s raw, uncontrolled aesthetic and spontaneous linework perfectly match this scraggly-dog tale. Cleverly, tenderly, she touches on some big emotions for young readers: loneliness, rejection, sadness and fear. Yet it’s her gentle humor and the characters’ innocence, loyalty and love that triumph. When readers reach the last spread—where the once-vagrant dog runs free with his boy through an expansive, sun-kissed field—they will ask for more, again and again. Just dazzling. (Picture book. 3-7)