This month’s kid’s books both touched a sensitive chord with me since they involve deployed daddies. My husband was a Marine in Fallujah, Iraq, happily before we had children, but it’s a sensitive issue for me. Here’s how they did:
New Books For Kids: Lilla’s Sunflowers And Cole’s Perfect Puppy
Lilla’s Sunflowers by Colleen Rowan Kosinski is a sweet and sensitive book for children ages 3-6. The story is short and simple, as is suitable for that level. The artwork, like the story’s heroine, is wistful and whimsical. Lilla sends a sunflower seed away with her Daddy, and misses him as her flowers at home grow. She takes comfort in a picture of him with the sunflower that he grew from her seed, and after his return receives photos of other families with their own sunflowers grown from that flower. Although the military aspect comes through in the illustrations, the text of the story is not military specific at all, nor does it address the danger Lilla’s daddy may be in, both of which I think are extremely appropriate. Instead, the illustrations portray the scope of Lilla’s emotions, from hopeful to angry to sad. The book is meant to be a comfort to any child whose parent is away for an extended period, and we have certainly been in that boat. I give this book an A+.
Cole’s Perfect Puppy
Cole’s Perfect Puppy By Frances Crossno is about a boy and his dog, his family, and a friend named Rachel, whose father died in Iraq. When I read the part where Rachel briefly explains this, not at all expecting it, my throat caught and my five-year-old daughter poignantly said, “But our Daddy didn’t die.” I wasn’t quite prepared for that.
There are several things I really liked about the book: it maintained a good tension that kept us wanting to read more, it pulled a few surprises that were quite entertaining, and it had a nice ending that pulled the whole thing together. The setting was not described at any great length, but I still came away with a pretty vivid sense of place that was admirable. The author is a dog lover and that comes across to good effect in her descriptions of the animals involved.
However, I’m not just a writer and book reviewer, I’m a proofreader, and sometimes when I read books for review, I just wish I could have gotten a hold of it a little earlier in the process. There are numerous editing issues in Cole’s Perfect Puppy. Quotation marks particularly appear and disappear at random and commas are also somewhat arbitrary. I’m not sure how old these kids are supposed to be–they seem quite young, but they hang out alone at the mall and Cole gets a job, so he must be, I’m thinking, at least 14? It feels a little off to me in that regard. Occasionally, the way the kids talk doesn’t always feel authentic. Finally, the book has an overt Christian message, and if you don’t share the authors faith, you may not find it appropriate for your children. We do share her faith, and I still found those passages a bit forced.
The book says at the top “Perfect Puppies Book One.” When we finished the book last night, my son exclaimed, “But it’s just book 1, right?! Because we haven’t heard their adventures together!” I take this as an endorsement, and I hope for his sake that future books in the series continue the same story. B for story, C for grammar.
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