Friday, November 29, 2013

Poppy the pirate dog by Liz Kessler, illustrated by Mike Phillips

When I first saw the cover of this book at ALA, I thought it was very attractive, but perhaps a bit too British. However, once I had checked it out I was won over by sweet Poppy.

Poppy is thrilled about going on vacation, especially when she gets a pirate scarf to wear around her neck. But a real pirate dog needs a pirate ship! Poppy is certain that each new boat trip will be wonderful, but they all end in disaster...until she finds the perfect pirate ship for her.

The book is divided into five short chapters with colorful illustrations on each page. Poppy is the central figure in both the text and art and her responses to her new experiences range from excited to humorous as she discovers that sailing isn't all she expected. The text is big and bold, with just a few sentences on each page, broken up by the art.

This is one that falls exactly between an easy reader and beginning chapter book. Think Bink and Gollie, if you're trying to find a comparison in reading level. My general dividing line between when a book goes to the juvenile section and when it stays in easy reader is chapters vs. colored illustrations, but this book has both. I'd probably put it in the juvenile fiction, because it doesn't quite have the feel of an easy reader.

From the description, it does sound a bit overly cute. However, Kessler is great at the light British mix of solid cute. Not twee, just cozy and happy. Poppy's disappointment each time "her" boat isn't what she expected and her delight when she finds the right craft are simple but satisfying.

Verdict: Kids not quite ready for Down Girl and Sit will enjoy this easy but well-written story. Recommended.

ISBN: 9780763665692; Published August 2013 by Candlewick; Borrowed from another library in my consortium; Added to the library's tentative order list

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