A stuffed dog finds a family in Li’s debut children’s book.
Two children, Tom and Ann, find a toy dog lying alone in the woods and bring him home. The children’s grandmother names him Philo, and the kids quickly adopt him as their constant companion, bringing him along on their daily adventures. Under Grandma’s watchful eye, the children eat, bathe, fight and play with the toy dog, learning various life lessons along the way. Throughout, Philo is aware of what’s going on but understands that he’s just a stuffed toy. One day, however, his life is transformed by the power of the love he receives from his adopted family. Adults and children will enjoy reading Li’s debut work together. Each chapter is its own little fable and offers a valuable lesson to its young readers: One shouldn’t jump on the furniture; everyone should share; one mustn’t fight or become jealous; and caring for one another is important. Together, the stories offer a charming, intuitive set of teachings. The chapter headings, however, as well as the book’s foreword, are a bit heavy-handed; for instance, the phrase, “Home to Where Love Awaits Us All,” may be a bit difficult for very young children to understand, even though the author’s heart is certainly in the right place. The prose stresses the importance of togetherness, love and family; love transforms Philo, and that very same love can complete a child’s life. The only dull spots in this fine book are its illustrations, which are lackluster and rudimentary compared to the lilting, captivating text; it might have been better to have taken them out completely. Overall, however, Li creates a lovely little world in her debut.
A charming, enchanting look at the power of love, as seen through a dog’s eyes.