The Nearly Calamitous Taming of PZ

Without a home, without a name, and with her puppies taken from her, a foxhound is rescued from a laboratory and begins the treacherous journey of learning how to live in the world.

When PZ-5934—as her tattoo reads, the only name she has ever known—leaves the laboratory cage in which she has lived her entire life, she feels not relief or exultation but paralyzing fear. Everything is new and terrifying—cars, grass, fences, doors, and the tiny black-and-red dot that starts to speak to her. Before long, however, PZ realizes that Dottie the ladybug is a friend who, Jiminy Cricket–like, will help guide her transition to life as a human companion. PZ makes slow progress and becomes attached to her rescuer, Lynn, only to find that once again her life is turned inside out when she becomes the adoptee of a young girl named Olivia, who recently lost her father. PZ—now named Lolly J.—and Olivia want to love each other, but they both struggle with trust and patience, making for a rocky beginning. The third-person narration switches between Lolly J. and Olivia, underscoring the author’s point that the relationship between a dog and a human evolves from changes on both sides. “You know what?” Olivia says to Lolly J. “The thing is, I needed taming, too.” Ritter is at her best when grappling with her main characters’ internal lives, outlining in an accessible, realistically paced way how the psychology of grief and trauma can give way to hope and love. The Disney-fied elements she adds in to enliven the story—e.g., the presence of Dottie and a 101 Dalmations–like rescue in the final chapters—seem somewhat less genuine and successful, though they may help engage younger readers. Ryan’s expressive black-and-white illustrations will do the same.

Essential reading for anyone who has adopted, or is planning to adopt, a dog in need of love.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-49958-802-6

Page Count: 223

Publisher: Bradley Street Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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A perfect story to enjoy on a “no bones day.”


Graziano tells the story of his TikTok-famous pug, Noodle.

Noodle is a silly, stubborn old pug who likes walks and snacks. “He’s a pug who knows what he wants.” Jonathan, his light-skinned owner, loves taking Noodle for walks and sharing snacks—they are a perfect pair. But one day, when it’s time for a walk, Noodle just lies in his dog bed. Even when Jonathan tries to make Noodle sit up, Noodle flops back down. “It’s like he doesn’t have bones!” says Jonathan. Noodle doesn’t seem sick—he just wants snacks and to stay in bed. Finally, Jonathan asks if Noodle would just like to snuggle instead and receives a strong affirmative from the drowsy pug. Together Noodle and his human enjoy a relaxing “no bones day” and learn an important lesson about rest and why it matters for silly, stubborn old pugs and for the humans who love them, too. Many may already be familiar with Noodle through his TikTok videos (if Noodle remains standing when Graziano lifts him, it’s a “bones day”; among Noodle’s followers, a “no bones day” has come to mean a day for self-care and taking it easy). However, this story stands alone and will likely create new fans for a long time to come. Hand-drawn and painted digitally, Tavis’ illustrations rely on a muted palette and rounded images, depicting an appropriately cozy world. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A perfect story to enjoy on a “no bones day.” (author's note) (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 7, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66592-710-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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An unabashed love letter from mother.


From the Little Pookie series

A sweet celebration of the bond between a mother and her Pookie.

The eighth installment in this always charming series eschews the episodic drama and silliness of earlier outing such as Spooky Pookie (2015) in favor of a mom’s-eye-view celebration of her child and the time they spend together. There is, of course, nothing wrong with drama and silliness. But while the lack of conflict and plot in favor of unapologetic sentiment makes this book a quick read, that doesn’t make it any less endearing. The rhymed verse captures a mother’s wonder as she observes the many facets of her child’s personality: “Ah, Pookie. My little one. My funny one. My child. // Sometimes you are quiet. Sometimes you are wild.” On the simple joys of shared moments, she notes, “I love to go walking with you by my side. / I love when we sing when we go for a ride. // And I love just to watch as you think and you play. / The way that you are is a wonderful way.” Paired with author/illustrator Boynton’s irresistible renderings of a porcine mommy and her playful, snuggly little piglet, the result is impossible to fault. Whether quietly reading, running in a tiger suit, singing with mom in the car, ears flapping in the breeze, or enjoying the safety of mom’s embrace, Pookie’s appeal continues unabated.

An unabashed love letter from mother. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3723-4

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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