Three pug puppies interact with an assertive cat in this simple, humorous story with not-so-subtle references to “The Three Little Pigs.”
The puppies, Gordy, Jilly, and Zoie, love active games followed by joint naps in their big wicker basket. When the unnamed “big bad cat” boldly takes over their bed, the puppies must figure out how to dislodge him. They try making the basket uncomfortable by adding items related to straw, sticks, and bricks. Gordy puts a pile of drinking straws in the bed, and later, Jilly adds sticks, using pencils, crayons, drum sticks, and knitting needles (but not sticks from a tree). Zoie contributes bricks, including Lego blocks, a pack of playing cards, and one larger, toy construction brick. When none of these methods work (“the very last straw!”), the pups leap onto the sleeping cat. They all curl up to sleep together, becoming friends as indicated in a photo-album collection on the concluding endpapers. The uncomplicated story structure and large, motion-filled illustrations make this an appealing choice for younger preschoolers just moving into real stories. However, some of the vocabulary and wordplay, such as “pug-o-war” for tug of war, “love seat” for sofa or couch, Legos described simply as “bricks,” and “the very last straw,” are over the heads of the intended audience. Another confusing issue is the mismatch of the colors of the cat and the pug ears and snouts on the cover, which do not match the colors in the internal illustrations.
Stick with a tried-and-true version of “The Three Little Pigs” and one of the charming pug stories of the last few years, such as Pug by Ethan Long (2016) or Pig and Pug by Lynne Barry and illustrated by Gemma Correll (2015). (Picture book. 2-6)