Review – The Pocket Dogs and the Lost Kitten

The Pocket Dogs and the Lost Kitten, Margaret Wild (author), Stephen Michael King (illus.), Scholastic Australia, 2016.

Let’s face it. We’ve all experienced that yearning to find and rescue a defenceless animal, love it, spoil it, and raise it to be one of your own. Right? Well, Biff and Buff do in this story, but what happens when they realise they might have to learn to share?

imageMr Pockets and his adorable pocket dogs have returned for yet another delightful tale of friendship and love. Previously seen in The Pocket Dogs and The Pocket Dogs go on Holiday, the eccentric and warm Mr Pockets has a valuable lesson for his two loyal pooches. Brilliantly combining their undeniable talents once more, Margaret Wild and Stephen Michael King capture elements of jealousy, compassion, trust, companionship, playfulness and tenderness all within its glorious 32 pages.

Biff and Buff are very comfortable with their current living (and travelling) situation with their owner, Mr Pockets and his snuggly, big coat. But one stormy night they hear a scritch-scratch at the door, and their life as they know it is about to change. A little, lost kitten is generously welcomed and she immediately fits right in. Mr Pockets takes a particular fancy to the adorable snow white ball of fluff and bathes her in love and affection. But the pocket dogs realise how much time their owner is spending with the kitty and suddenly feel dejected and second-rate. A wave of fear and jealousy sets in and causes them to endure worrying dreams and the inability to share their belongings as they once did. Some reassurance and encouragement from Mr Pockets is the comfort they need to reclaim their sense of belonging. But when Biff and Buff are ready to accept the kitten into the family, is it too late?

imageI love how Stephen Michael King utilises space, colour and loose lines to depict perspective, action and emotion. His characteristically eye-catching and whimsical pen and brush techniques are the perfect companion to the energetic and heart-melting moments of Wild‘s words. Her cleverly constructed plot is simple, but her expert use of narrative is vivid and sensuous, and the dialogue is engaging and encouraging. Both story and pictures maintain a softness and contentment of a kind family that touch us on many deep levels.

‘The Pocket Dogs and the Lost Kitten’ is one to warm the heart and soul. Recommended for children from age three, and particularly those making new adjustments in their lives.

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Aaron Blabey’s Lessons With a Twist

Aaron Blabey Aaron Blabey is an actor-turned children’s author and illustrator, having great success with award-winning books including Pearl Barley and Charlie Parsley, The Ghost of Miss Annabel Spoon, and Pig the Pug, which is becoming one of Australia’s best selling picture books.

Fortunate to have Sunday Chutney as the chosen book to be read in schools for Read for Australia during National Literacy and Numeracy Week this year, Blabey’s fortune continues with an estimated 500,000 children simultaneously reading The Brothers Quibble for National Simultaneous Storytime in May 2015!

His books are frequently becoming more welcomed into our household, with their strong sense of morality, sick sense of humour, a touch of darkness and bold, energetic illustrations that leave us wanting more! Here are a few titles to consider adding to your reading list.

the-brothers-quibble The Brothers Quibble
When baby Bunny is introduced is when Spalding’s world falls apart. With a hint of delirium and eyes as big as saucers, the oldest boy feels something called ‘utter and complete jealousy’ creep up from somewhere deep inside. And a WAR has erupted in the Quibble household!

Spalding goes on to cause absolute havoc, only to be sentenced to Time Out in his room. And as baby Bunny starts to grow up, he learns valuable lessons in self defense. But behind every taunt, quabble, whack and scuffle, Bunny still has nothing but love to give.
Eventually, Spalding’s frozen heart is melted and the brothers begin to actually like each other. Even if it’s not always sunny!

Delightfully dramatic illustrations are cleverly depicted through accentuated, crazed facial expressions and moody dark backgrounds. But at the same time there is a nice softness in the colour palette during those ‘loving’ moments.

The Brothers Quibble, a story of relationships, acceptance and jealousy, contains just the perfect amount of humour, touching moments and wickedness through its flowing, rhyming text that will capture all readers from age four, and particularly for those who understand the complexity that is sibling rivalry.

22735715 Pig the Pug
You can’t go past this eye-bulging, squashed nose little pug that graces the front cover of Aaron’s Blabey’s Pig the Pug.

From the onset, we learn just how greedy and selfish this dog is, as he has already claimed the book as his own on the ‘This book belongs to…’ label. True to classic tantrum behaviour, Pig blatantly refuses to share anything with friendly sausage dog, Trevor. A kind gesture by Trevor sees Pig the Pug completely ”flip his wig”.

Just like in The Brothers Quibble, Pig goes delirious and maniacal, showing that same crazed expression and shameful, immature temper as Spalding Quibble.
Pig doesn’t learn his lesson gently. Should we laugh at his misfortune? Ashamedly, yes. With a distinguishable reference to the phrase, ‘When pigs can fly’, Pig the Pug cannot and receives his just deserts, which only turns out to be sweet for one… Trevor!

Pig the Pug is delightfully told in fun, exuberant rhyme, with vivid, amusing illustrations.  A wildly funny read and a clear lesson in learning to share, suitable for all ages.

9780670075997 The Dreadful Fluff
This book is absolutely terrifying! But once again, Aaron Blabey has been able to leave us deeply affected by the experience, yet still wanting to relive it over and over.

Belly button fluff… absolutely dreadful! Serenity Strainer, who is little miss perfect, has found some… in her own belly button!

” ‘That can’t possibly be mine!’ she said.”

Sounds pretty harmless so far? Wrong!
The tiny fluffball turns into a horrific, teeth-gnashing monster, taunting Serenity, creating havoc and threatening her family. As each member of the family encounter the ball of lint, they are instantly engulfed and the evil thing grows larger and fluffier and even more dreadful. Finally, with some smart thinking by Serenity, the fluff monster is sucked into oblivion and everyone is saved.

Characteristically Blabey, his illustration style is amusing, quirky and bold, whilst delightfully and cleverly incorporating a clear moral. Lots of devastingly frightening fun for all ages.  

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