________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 19 . . . . May 15, 2009

cover Who Wants This Puppy?

Pat Ternovetsky. Illustrated by Zane Belton.
Winnipeg, MB: Peanut Butter Press (www.peanutbutterpress.ca), 2008.
31 pp., pbk., $10.00.
ISBN 978-0-9735579-6-1.

Kindergarten-grade 5 / Ages 5-10.

Review by Renée Englot.

** /4


When I was alone, I got tired of waiting and I decided to have some fun. Those shoes in the closet looked so tasty and smelled so good that I just had to give them a chew!

I liked to topple the shiny can in the bathroom and spread the fluffy white paper all over. Sometimes I forgot where to "go" and left wet spots on the floor!

When spring came, my family tied me up in the yard.

What was under that lovely green grass? I dug hole to try to find out.

What kept moving behind the fence? I barked to try to scare it away.

Who Wants this Puppy? is told in first person from the point of view of a dog. Born on a farm, the puppy is purchased by parents as a Christmas gift for their children. All goes well at first, but when the family returns to work and school, Max, the puppy, looks for ways to entertain himself. Ternovetsky aptly connects the dog's misbehaviors to its nature, giving the reader a sense of why the dog does what it does. By spring, the family decides they no longer want the responsibility of the dog, and they take it to a shelter. Again, Ternovetsky gives readers a good sense of what a dog might feel when it is left in a shelter. Eventually a family decides that Max is a good fit for them. The new family proves to be patient, kind and committed to proper training. Max continues to make some mistakes, but he and his family make progress together.

internal art

     Who Wants this Puppy? is not a riveting narrative. It's didactic in that it's meant to teach children (and their families) to think realistically about the responsibilities of pet ownership. The book emphasizes careful choice of a pet and its proper training. In that regard, the book should achieve the author's goal. The book would be good reading for those considering the purchase of a pet and for those with a new pet at home. While the book deals specifically with dog ownership, the message would be appropriate for other pets as well.

     The illustrations were done by Zane Belton when he was seven-years-old. They're a good quality for someone that age. Nevertheless, they are a child's crayon drawings. There's quite a bit of detail for young readers to explore. There's also a paw print on each two-page spread that readers can hunt for.

     Although the message is good, the delivery is a bit clumsy. The illustrations contribute to an unprofessional look which may result in the book's staying on the shelf. This lack of professionalism is not helped by a typo on the back cover. A laudable effort, but one which would have benefitted from the input of a professional designer.

Recommended with reservations.

Renée Englot is a former junior high school teacher now working as a professional storyteller in school settings. She holds a Master of Arts in Children's Literature.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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