________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 1 . . . .September 2, 2005


Puppies on Board.

Sarah N. Harvey. Illustrated by Rose Cowles.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2005.
32 pp., cloth, $19.95.
ISBN 1-55143-390-7.

Subject Heading:
Puppies-Juvenile fiction.

Preschool-grade 3 / Ages 4-8.

Review by Valerie Nielsen.


Reviewed from f&g's.



Mollie is used to waking to the sounds of water lapping against the hull of the houseboat she lives on, of seagulls squawking, rubber bumpers squeaking and boat engines roaring. One morning, however, she wakes to a strange, snuffly sound. On investigation, she finds that the noise comes from her dog Sheba's pen. To Mollie's amazement, where there was nothing the night before, there is now a heap of damp, squirming puppies which Sheba is busily licking and nuzzling.

At first Mollie could count only four or five, but as Sheba cleaned each one, Mollie counted six, then seven, then eight, nine and finally TEN noisy, hungry puppies.

Then Mollie noticed something else-a tiny scrap of scraggly black fur tucked into the far corner of the pen. Ever so carefully, Mollie reached in and scooped up puppy number eleven. He was too small and weak to compete with his brothers and sisters, but he fit snugly into Mollie's cupped hands.

     With eleven puppies on board, Mollie must pitch in and help with the cleaning and care of the brood. Mollie names all the puppies and writes about them to her father who is away at sea. She loves them all, but her special favourite is Wilbur, the smallest and weakest of the batch. Wilbur rides around in Mollie's backpack while his brothers and sisters tear all over the houseboat, climbing, burrowing, chewing and generally leaving havoc in their wake. Mollie's poor mother sighs in frustration. "One dog is enough for me" she says for the second time in the story. Her complaint is Mollie's cue to come up with a plan, and it is brilliant one. She will host a tea party to find homes for the puppies, although perhaps there will have to be a special arrangement for Wilbur, who, after all, is a very special dog.

internal art     With the expert assistance of Rose Cowles, the artist who illustrated Puppies on Board, the author manages to imbue each pup with a personality. Harvey's cast of delightfully eccentric human characters, as different from one another as are the puppies, is brought to life with verve and humour by Cowles, who also does a fine job of illustrating the Pacific west coast setting of the story. Adult readers will enjoy sharing this tale of a plethora of puppies with young listeners.

     Sarah Harvey is fortunate to have been partnered for her first children's book with an artist as clever at interpreting her style as Rose Cowles. It will be interesting to see if the two are inspired by the success of Puppies on Board to go on to other picture books.

Highly Recommended.

A retired teacher-librarian, Valerie Nielsen lives in Winnipeg, MB.

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

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ISSN 1201-9364
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