A RIVER OF DUST Written by Jilanne Hoffmann Illustrated by Eugenia Mello (Chronicle Books;…
Written by Kelly DiPucchio
Illustrated by Christian Robinson
(Atheneum BYR; $17.99, Ages 4-8)
is reviewed by Cathy Ballou Mealey
Two little pups, as cute as can be, discover that family comes first, even when you must struggle to find your place in the litter. Kelly DiPucchio’s adorable GASTON doesn’t look like his poodle sisters Fi-Fi, Foo-Foo and Ooh-La-La but he works hard to master mama’s lessons in sipping, yipping and walking with grace. During a stroll through the park, Gaston encounters Antoinette, who doesn’t quite fit in with her rough-and-tumble bulldog brothers Rocky, Ricky and Bruno. Trading places makes the canine families look right, but they just don’t feel right. Can the mixed-up pups reconcile how they appear with who they really are?
DiPucchio’s clever, zippy text makes this a delightful book about families, belonging, and being true to oneself. The silly names and playful phrases (nibble their kibble/proper or precious or pink) will guarantee giggles through multiple readings. Robinson’s delightful acrylic illustrations capture the bouncy theme perfectly, wrapping the text around the energetic action of the pups and enhancing their distinctive personalities. Springy greens, mustard yellows, and mauve taupes give a retro feel to a fresh and fun story.
In addition to starred reviews from Horn Book and Shelf Awareness, GASTON received a starred review from Kirkus, which proclaimed it “A perfect read aloud that will leave them begging for more—an absolute delight.” I couldn’t agree more. Whether tough or tender, precious or brutish, young book lovers will fall head over heels for the charm of Gaston.
- Reviewed by Cathy Ballou Mealey
Where Obtained: I received a review copy from the publisher and received no other compensation. The opinions expressed here are my own.