________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 3. . . .September 17, 2010


The Patched Heart: A Gift of Friendship and Caring.

H.E. Stewart.
Victoria, BC: Tudor House Press (Distributed by Orca), 2010.
32 pp., hardcover, $19.95.
ISBN 978-0-9693852-5-7.

Subject Headings:
Days -Juvenile fiction.
Hospitals -Juvenile fiction .

Preschool-grade 3 / Ages 3-7.

Review by Ellen Heaney. *** /4


Author Helen Stewart came to British Columbia in the mid-60’s as part of that era’s back-to-the-land movement. Her experiences sheep farming and raising a family in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains are told in the book Berkeley to the Barnyard: A Far Cry from Home.

internal art     Stewart is both the writer and illustrator of The Patched Heart, one of several picture books she has produced. This is a sweet story about a dog named Big Puppy who collapses on the beach while out for a run with canine friend Mossy. Rushed to the clinic by the Newfoundland rescue dogs, Big Puppy is examined and then taken to the hospital. Unfortunately, the loyal Mossy is left behind in the confusion.

      No one realized how important she was. No one realized how very loyal she was. Her heart was set on staying with her friend. She climbed up high to see which way to follow. Then off she bounded like a rippling of wind, in the same direction as the ambulance. Big Puppy was confused. To him, everything seemed strange. After all, he had never been away from home before. He was feeling bad, and the smells and sound at the hospital made him feel even worse.

      Big Puppy (later renamed Patch by the nurses) has experiences in the hospital that are described in touching detail, showing him confused and lonely. Luckily, things turn around when Mossy shows up at the bedside.

      Colour pencil illustrations are done in pale tones of brown, yellow and blue. On most pages, the action is described in a greeting-card sized picture set on a background that looks variously like a warm beach, a restful wood or a more dark and threatening interior. There are lots of details that warrant close examination.

      The text fits the flow of the tale well, sometimes serious:

A hospital is a busy place, making it difficult to rest. Patch grew weary of the constant coming and going, the lights blinking, and alarm bells sounding.

     sometimes whimsical:

His room became a gathering place – and even Mother Goose came to visit. She fluffed her feathers and settled herself down in a motherly way to read stories. Like magic, each listener was carried off to a different world, a world of calm, or fantasy, or adventure.

     We know this book is about the value of therapy dogs, but young readers will accept it mainly as a story about steadfast friendship. It will be helpful to children who are themselves dealing with a serious illness or who have family in the hospital.

     The Patched Heart was originally published in 2007 and received a 2008 Mom’s Choice award, prizes which “[honor] excellence in family-friendly media, products and services.” The Patched Heart is a worthy addition to school and public library collections.


Ellen Heaney is Head, Children’s Services, at the New Westminster Public Library, New Westminster, B.C.

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

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