CM . . .
. Volume XXIII Number 30. . . .April 14, 2017
Millie has always wanted a dog. When her mother goes to California to visit her brother, Mia, Millie’s aunt, stays with her. They see a cute puppy and end up at the Canine Refuge on the Quebec side of the town. Both Millie and Mia end up purchasing puppies from the same litter and are told they have 60 days to return their puppies if they don’t work out. When Penelope, Millie’s mom, returns home, she is not happy to see the dogs and tells Millie that there are three things she dislikes about dogs. She does not like a wet dog smell, she does not like their barking, and she does not like dog hair.
After the death of Millie’s father, Penelope and Millie return to Brine Lake where Mia and Penelope grew up. Together, the sisters operate an antique shop. Millie loves to sketch, and she draws from her everyday life experiences. Sometimes her drawings seem to have a life of their own as details which Millie doesn’t remember drawing appear on the pages. They seem to record or predict details of what has happened or what will happen.
Penelope changes her mind about Millie’s dog, P.J., when, in the middle of a thunderstorm and downpour, P.J. alerts them to rain coming in the basement of the store. Also, it is P.J. who introduces himself to the neighbours, Cassandre and her father, Marc. After a rocky start with a torn screen door and a brush with a family of skunks, the two girls and Marc and Penelope become friends.
The story is a good lesson in friendship. Millie wants a dog and will do anything to achieve that goal. She is helped by her Aunt Mia who also falls in love with the cute puppies. The story is simple and to the point. There is a Victorian Dog Pageant and Games complete with Victorian costumes, a thief who is uncovered by P.J., two cats named Oedipus and Pussicles who belong to Cassandre and help when a bat moves into Millie’s kitchen. At first, Marc does not want to have P.J. in his yard, but everything works out. The sketchbook adds a bit of mystery as does the thief who steals from the Victorian Dog Pageant and Games.
P. J. Le Pooch & the Magic Sketchbook is divided into 18 chapters, and the chapter titles summarize the plot of the story. The story is well-constructed. All of the details fit together and provide a satisfactory conclusion. There are a few French words that fit very well into the dialogue. Some of the more difficult words have an explanation on the bottom of the page, an example being alfresco which is Italian for open air. The vocabulary is interesting and would appeal to proficient readers. P. J. Le Pooch & the Magic Sketchbook would be enjoyed by readers of realistic fiction, friendship and animal stories. Although the characters are female, this book would be enjoyed by both girls and boy and would be an excellent choice for school, public and personal libraries.
Deborah Mervold is an educator from Shellbrook, SK, now doing faculty training and program development at Saskatchewan Polytechnic. She has extensive experience as an English teacher and teacher-librarian.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.