2 out of 4 stars
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As the mother of a three year old I have become exposed to a wide variety of children’s books as well as practiced in the art of rereading the same book a multitude of times. If you have small children you know what I mean: the favorite books in our house get read over and over (and over and over) again. So I was quite willing to take a look at a new picture book as I read Puffy and the Formidable Foe by Marie G. Lepkowski, Ann M. Hannon, and Margaret B. Hannon. Authors Ann M. Hannon, and Margaret B. Hannon also provided the illustrations.
Puffy and the Formidable Foe follows a cat as he goes on an outside adventure and encounters various objects and creatures such as a mole, mushrooms, and a skunk. The story is told with simple rhymes and places a small, manageable amount of text on each page which is ideal for reading with children.
At the beginning of the book there is a list of tips for interactive reading with your child which I found to be useful as either instructions or reminders. These included items such as “have your child re-tell the story in his or her own words,” and “have your child pick their favorite part of the story and tell you why.” Interactive reading is a powerful tool to help children to learn and also to promote bonding between reader and child so I found this to be a very positive aspect of this book.
I would give this book 2 out of 4 stars. I really liked the aspect of the book that encouraged interactive reading and I enjoyed the simple rhyming style used. However I found the art and layout of the book to be somewhat amature in style, reminding me of something that would be put together on a basic paint program. With a variety of beautifully illustrated books in the market today, this one felt a bit lackluster. I also wasn’t sold on the book’s overall message, as the cat protagonist, Puffy, decides that he will stay at home so that he will not risk running into any more skunks. While told in a humorous fashion- I enjoyed the “no skunks” sign!- I was disappointed that Puffy goes from being an adventurous explorer to a cat who has to stay at home. While it is good to be careful, I want my children to be explorers! To be brave!
One other small thing that bothered me: I didn’t like baths being portrayed in a negative light. This may not be an issue for many readers but my three year old has enough negativity around baths as it is.
All in all a mixed review from me. While I enjoyed some aspects of the book and could see other parents enjoying it as well, this would not be a book I would want to be reading over and over again with my child. Once or twice would be enough.
Puffy and the Formidable Foe
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