JESSIE YOU'RE SO MESSY

A young boy finds out how much work goes into teaching a puppy to stay out of trouble in this debut children’s book.

Trent wants a puppy; his parents make him wait until he is 5, old enough to handle the responsibility of raising a pet “because doggies are a lot of work.” Trent instantly falls in love with an enthusiastic brown and tan dog, which he names Jessie. Trent gives Jessie a pillow for his bed, and even though it’s comfortable, the canine soon grows bored and begins chewing it. It’s the first mess: illustrator McIntosh shows a redheaded, blue-eyed Trent looking at a huge pile of feathers in dismay. “Jessie! You’re sooo messy!” he exclaims. In the endnotes, Normandin, an early childhood educator, points out that this refrain, printed in red instead of brown like the rest of the text, is designed for young readers to chime in—and they surely will. To clean up the mess, Trent shuts Jessie in his parents’ room, where the pup finds a tube of lipstick within reach. Cue the refrain, and an even more frustrated-looking Trent appears on the page. Jessie heads to the kitchen while Trent cleans up, and the animal finds joy. He spies a huge bag of dog food. Preschoolers and other lap readers should see the pattern by this point and giggle as Trent discovers another fiasco—and tries putting the pup in another room. But even the basement turns into a disaster area as untrained Jessie empties his bladder on the floor. When Trent steps in the puddle, young audiences will likely voice the appropriate “Ew!” in response before citing the refrain. Outside, Jessie finds a mud puddle; in the bathtub, he delights in knocking over the shampoo. Like Trent, children are sure to learn in this engaging story that a dog really is a serious responsibility. And while they might empathize with Trent, they’re more likely to laugh at the boy’s misfortunes throughout, especially as his expressions in McIntosh’s colorful cartoonish images become more frantic. This is definitely a humorous way to show the reality of how tough it can be to train a new puppy. This amusing read-aloud tale for a preschool classroom about a mischievous canine should elicit plenty of giggles.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4602-7945-8

Page Count: -

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Dec. 28, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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This appealing work is an excellent addition to any emotional-intelligence shelf.

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THE RABBIT LISTENED

Author/illustrator Doerrfeld gives children a model for how to process difficult events and provide meaningful support to friends who need it.

Taylor is excited to build a block tower, but then a flock of birds swoops in and knocks it all down. Different animal friends try to help, in ways that cleverly mirror their nature: the bear shouts, the ostrich buries its head in the wreckage, and the snake hisses about revenge. But what Taylor (who is never referred to with gendered pronouns) really needs is to explore a whole range of emotional responses to loss, without being asked to perform any specific feeling. A cuddly rabbit shows up and just listens, giving Taylor—an expressive child with light skin, curly dark hair, and blue-and-white–striped one-piece pajamas—space for the whole process, going from grief to anger to resolution. The illustrations are spare yet textured, and the pace is excellent for reading aloud, with lots of opportunities for funny voices and discussion starters about supporting anyone through a hard time. Despite the obvious takeaway, this story doesn’t feel overly moralizing or didactic. Keeping the focus on the small tragedy of tumbled blocks makes it young-child–appropriate, with opportunities for deeper connections with an older audience.

This appealing work is an excellent addition to any emotional-intelligence shelf. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2935-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

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Lucky kitten, lucky readers: a sweet, special Halloween story.

THE LITTLE KITTEN

From the My Little Animal Friend series

Cats and loving homes make for a perfect fall or anytime story.

On an autumn morning, cat-suited Ollie goes outside to play with her cat, Pumpkin. Just as she’s about to jump into a pile of leaves, the wind blows them everywhere. Hiding underneath is a small, shivering kitten, whom Ollie picks up. She, Pumpkin, and the newcomer play, then rest. When the kitten wants to resume frolicking, Ollie runs into the woods with him, forgetting sleeping Pumpkin. Posters on trees tell Ollie that someone’s lost the kitten. Suddenly, another gust of wind reveals a hidden path that leads the little kitten safely home. Tearfully, Ollie now remembers Pumpkin but is herself lost. All ends extremely well, however, and a marvelous surprise conclusion results in happiness for all on this very special night that only sharp-eyed observers might have seen coming—and an unexpected gift the next morning! The simplest of premises brings great rewards in this sweet, heartwarming charmer, narrated with economic, beautiful language. Matching the lovely story is simple, pleasing art, presented in a palette of shades of gray and orange, black, and white. Adding magic to the simple scenes are flashes of shiny orange foil in some illustrations and on the dust jacket. Cutouts on a few pages open up clever new perspectives on following pages. Ollie presents White.

Lucky kitten, lucky readers: a sweet, special Halloween story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6696-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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