CM . . . .
Volume VI Number 17 . . . . April 28, 2000
Later, everyone went outside to play. Boomer was very excited. He loved to play fetch. He waited and waited for someone to throw him the ball. But no one did. Finally, Boomer lay down at the far end of the yard. He wondered if anyone would ever play with him. But, it wasn't long before Boomer felt a lick on his nose. He opened his eyes. There was his old green tennis ball. And there was Baby, wagging his tail.Boomer's Big Surprise is the third in this series of children's picture books starring Boomer, the golden retriever. Like the previous two books, Boomer's Big Surprise uses Boomer as a medium to teach children about potentially traumatic events. In this book, Boomer's human family adopts a new puppy, and Boomer must adjust to the changes. Initially, he is confused by all the excitement and strange events, and it is not long before Boomer becomes jealous of the new puppy and all the attention that he is receiving from the various family members. Boomer soon realizes, though, that Baby is really a good thing, someone new to play with, and the two become the best of friends.
The book is short and thus moves quickly, making Boomer's transition from wariness to love seem a little implausible to adult readers, but the length and pace are most appropriate for the intended audience. The sentences, too, are short and to the point, making it a book perfect for reading out loud, either to an individual child or to a group of children. The watercolour illustrations also lead to the book's being read aloud, with colourful, vibrant illustrations filling the double page spreads. Although the realistic illustrations follow the action of the book, the moments of time chosen for illustration are original and unexpected. Because of the watercolour medium, the paintings are full of energy and motion and manage to capture emotion, as well.
This book would be an appropriate read by a librarian or teacher to a group of children to prompt or stimulate discussion about siblings and sibling rivalry. It would also be useful to parents looking to broach the subject with their child. Consequently, for readers looking for a book about the introduction of a new baby into the household, the positive, bright storyline and detailed, emotive illustrations make this book a good choice. For readers looking for a stand-alone story, Boomer's Big Surprise falls somewhat short as it lacks a storyline which would be attractive and interesting to all readers.
Emily Walters Gregor, an aspiring author and critic, is a Senior Four student at St. John's-Ravenscourt School in Winnipeg, MB.
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