Review: Puppy Drama by Andra Gillum, Illustrated by Andy Case

★★★★★ Review: Puppy Drama by Andra Gillum

In Doggy Drama, the earlier book in this series, it followed a dog named Riley, who has to deal with the pitfalls of a new baby in the house. It’s an endearing, and instructive look at how to adapt to a new member of the family. Now the tables have turned in Puppy Drama and Riley’s the older sibling, while a new puppy, Lucy, is introduced, who has to contend with Riley’s antics.

Just as in Doggy Drama, we get a not-so-subtle message about adapting to a growing family in amusing and effective ways. Here Lucy is forced to use Riley’s hand-me-downs (chew toys), contend with Riley’s older-brother bossiness and boasting, and other dynamics common to siblings.

The purpose of this perspective is two-fold: an older sibling who read Doggy Drama can begin to understand what it’s like to be the new baby in the house, as Puppy Drama may inspire some empathy for a kid sister or brother – the grass isn’t always greener, and everyone has their unique struggles. The book is of course also aimed at the younger sibling who will immediately recognize everything Lucy has to go through. While at first, Lucy seems like she’s full of a litany of complaints about her life, especially about her human brother and sister, the book ends on a nice message, where Lucy appreciates all that she has – even Riley, who looks out for her.

There are often two missing elements in self-published children’s books: the text is not age appropriate, and the illustrations look, well, self-published. Andra Gillum’s series has none of these faults, as the book is perfectly rendered for kids of the intended age range, and the illustrations are sharp and vivid. The illustrations are so professionally done that one wishes for them to be even larger, giving kids even more to explore. The illustrations are a lot of sweet close-ups of Lucy, but much less in the background, and kids love looking at the smaller details. As it stands, the illustrations are enormously expressive and engaging. The book ends with the real photographs of pictures of Lucy and Riley in real life – kids will want to start the book over again, keeping the real-life dogs in mind!

Most of all the book is full of positive good humor – kids will laugh at pictures such as Lucy being dressed up by her sister in clothes and jewelry. It’s the sort of book that pre-readers can look at and know exactly what’s going on without reading the words. For new readers, the prose is slightly complicated, so a parent will definitely have to be involved, but as this is a story about family dynamics, Puppy Drama is absolutely a book that should be shared and talked about with parent and child.

There are of course a number of children’s books that explore the theme of new siblings, and Puppy Drama is an excellent addition to this important genre. It has all the hallmarks of a professionally-published book. If you’re looking for a sweet, good-natured, funny, and instructive book about making your way in a growing family, then look no further.

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Puppy Drama

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