________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 11 . . . . January 25, 2008


A Puppy is for Loving. (Orca Echoes).

Mary Labatt. Illustrated by Renata Liwska.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2007.
59 pp., pbk., $6.95.
ISBN 978-1-55143-477-3.

Subject Heading:
Puppies-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 2-5 / Ages 7-10.

Review by Ruth McMahon.

*** ½ /4


I held Grandma’s hand. Together we watched the car go over the hill. The sun felt warm on my head. We were alone now. Elsie sat quietly with us in the silence of the farm.

“Well, Elizabeth,” said Grandma at last. “You’re here. And what a wonderful summer this will be.” 

I looked up at my grandmother’s kind face. Her bright blue eyes twinkled. “I have a surprise this summer,” she said.

I held my breath. I loved surprises. Elsie thumped her tail.

“You will never guess this surprise,” said Grandma.

“What is it?” I couldn’t wait to find out.

But Grandma just smiled.

“Tell me, Grandma.”“Well…,” said Grandma.

The corners of her mouth twitched.

“What is it?” I cried.

“It’s about Elsie,” said Grandma, “and it’s a very nice surprise.”

I waited. Grandma smiled down at Elsie, and then she looked back at me.

“Elsie is expecting puppies in three days!”

A Puppy is for Loving is a genuine, charming, sweet - but not saccharine - story about Elizabeth’s summer visit with her grandmother and the birth of Elsie’s puppies. The story continues as Elsie’s grandmother is determined to find the perfect home for each of the puppies, homes where they will be loved and make a difference in their owners’ lives.

     Details of the birth and the preparations are dealt with directly but never unseemly. The descriptions of the puppies’ unique qualities are perceptive and captivating. Elizabeth’s infatuation will resonate with anyone who has ever laid eyes on a helpless puppy. 

     Renata Liwska’s illustrations reinforce the warmth and gentleness of the story and provide the right amount of encouragement for the young reader.

     A Puppy is for Loving is a very strong book, particularly for its genre. I think the ‘early chapter book’ genre is one of the most difficult genres to write in. Mary Labatt’s intimate knowledge of raising puppies is evident in the text and the passion with which she tells this story. Our resident eight-year-old loved the book and couldn’t put it down.

Highly Recommended.

Ruth McMahon of Medicine Hat, AB, is a children’s librarian, storyteller, co-chair of the Rocky Mountain Children’s Choice Book Award, and the mother of two elementary school aged children.

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

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.