Boo Loves Books, Kaye Baillie (author), Tracie Grimwood (illus.), New Frontier Publishing, May 2020.
Some dogs are shy and anxious, and so are some children.
Can Boo and Phoebe turn their fears into a positive experience?
A book that celebrates the joy of reading.
Boo Loves Books touched us so deeply we could literally feel the warmth radiating from our hearts. I read this with my seven-year-old, and needless to say we are HUGE dog-lovers (we have two of our own), and book-lovers (naturally), so the combination just perfectly aligned. Kids reading to dogs is an initiative that has recently boomed, with many wonderful programs simultaneously assisting both children and dogs with their anxiety, or those in need developmentally. My daughter and I absolutely LOVE this book, knowing that, even without a specific need, being around dogs has a calming effect. And all the more reason to love this story – there is a mutual understanding and a feel-good cause for the bond between Phoebe and her new pal, Big Boo.
You see, Phoebe struggles with reading. She’s worried about getting anything wrong. But when her teacher, Miss Spinelli takes the class to the dog shelter to read, Phoebe slowly comes to realise that there are other strategies that work just as well, like talking about the pictures. She also discovers that her assigned dog, Big Boo, is just as scared as she is, and with gradual growth in confidence, Phoebe is ‘having a go’ and Big Boo is learning to trust. No spoilers here, but you must read this book to see the heart-warming ending for yourself!
Kaye Baillie superbly taps into her characters’ feelings of anxiety with her evocative language, accompanied by the reassuring nature and gentle guidance of the teacher. And on the same page, illustrator Tracie Grimwood portrays body and facial expressions, with both Phoebe and Big Boo, that enables readers to pick up visual cues should they want to ‘read the pictures’ too. Her use of soft watercolours and line in subdued greens, reds and oranges aptly elicit that calming effect with the perfect touch of warmth.
Boo Loves Books is utterly loveable – the kind of book you want to read to every dog you meet. And kids of all ages will love it, too – it’s the kind of book they’ll easily get comfortable with, read after read, after read.
Review by Romi Sharp
*Special thanks to New Frontier Publishing for providing a copy of Boo Loves Books for review.