“THE CHRISTMAS PUPS,” by Teresa Bateman, illustrated by John Kanzler, Albert Whitman & Company, Aug. 1, 2011, $16.99 (ages 3 and up)
Ruff, Tuff and Penny are cold. An icy rain is falling and the puppies are confused. They’re in a box on the side of the road. They’ve been left behind. Just as the rain begins to turn to snow, they see the lights from a car and feel themselves being put inside. It’s late and they’re too tired to wonder where they’ll end up next.
When Ruff, Tuff and Penny wake the next day, they find themselves in a shelter with Brownie, an older dog who explains what Christmas is and how they might find themselves a permanent home.
Ruff and Tuff decide to be naughty so Penny will find a home first, but the plan backfires, and by the end of the day, no one has picked any of the three puppies. Just then, a family with two boys and a girl enter the shelter. Penny is the obvious choice, but so are Ruff and Tuff. And with all those puppies, an older dog is needed to keep them in line — Brownie finds a home, too.
Though it’s perhaps a little too idealistic, “The Christmas Pups” is innocent fun. Illustrator John Kanzler’s puppies will captivate children — and grown men who want a “goggy” for Christmas. Teresa Bateman’s tale is sweet and hits just the right notes for this holiday season.
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