Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Children's Book Review, Gaston

Children's Book Review by Susan Stephenson,

Gaston is a children’s picture book, written by Kelly DiPucchio, and illustrated by Christian Robinson. It was published in Australia by Simon and Schuster, 2014, and in the USA by Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

From the publisher:

This is the story of four puppies: Fi-Fi, Foo-Foo, Ooh-La-La, and Gaston. Gaston works the hardest at his lessons on how to be a proper pooch. He sips—never slobbers! He yips—never yaps! And he walks with grace—never races! Gaston fits right in with his poodle sisters.

But a chance encounter with a bulldog family in the park—Rocky, Ricky, Bruno, and Antoinette—reveals there’s been a mix-up, and so Gaston and Antoinette switch places. The new families look right…but they don’t feel right. Can these puppies follow their noses—and their hearts—to find where they belong?

I haven’t encountered DiPucchio’s books before but I’m an instant fan. She addresses young readers directly, inviting their responses, and making the book more interactive. I loved her character names - so beautifully appropriate for the pups. Children will enjoy the subtle underscoring of the differences between the puppies, and the resulting humour. I think they’ll also appreciate the theme about following your heart to find out where you belong.

My hardback copy of the book is perfectly sized for a library read-aloud. The paper is that high quality kind and combined with Robinson’s art work, makes you enjoy running your fingers gently over the pages. The puppies themselves are portrayed simply, and I envisage many young artists copying that style in their own art work. As with all excellent children’s picture books, Robinson’s illustrations add lovely extra details and subtext to the story.

Gaston will go immediately onto my list of top picture books reviewed in 2015. It’s a stunning book, with a clever and amusing story, perfectly complemented by acrylic art work children will love. Do seek it out for home/school enjoyment and share it soon with children you love.

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