Book Review: Good Rosie, by Kate DiCamillo

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‘A good dog needs good friends.’

Rosie the Jack Russell terrier is a good dog. With her owner, George, Rosie lives a good life. She has plenty to eat and a shiny silver bowl that she can see her reflection in when she’s finished her breakfast. ‘Ruff’, says Rosie, saying hello to the dog she spots in the bottom of her bowl. The dog stares back at her in silence.

Good Rosie is the story of a lonely little dog and an owner who helps her to venture beyond her comfort zone to find the friends she longs for. The path to friendship, though, is not always smooth and easily travelled.

Each day after breakfast, George and Rosie go for a walk. They stop to gaze at clouds, sometimes spotting shapes in the sky, and Rosie chases squirrels but never catches one. One day George has an idea. Should they try something new?

Rosie is curious but shy. Even though she’d like someone to play with, she’s hesitant to respond to the overtures of the strange dogs that fill the dog park. Big, bumbling Maurice just wants to play but doesn’t know his own strength. Joyful Fifi, tiny but incredibly bouncy, is bursting to join in. Both are too much for gentle Rosie at first, until they all work out a way to get along. No more lonely looks into the dog bowl after breakfast now. Instead, George and Rosie head straight to the dog park for a game of chasey with their new friends.

Good Rosie is the most recent children’s picture book collaboration from American creators Kate DiCamillo and illustrator Harry Bliss. (Together they published Louise, The Adventures of a Chicken in 2008.)

Kate DiCamillo writes for both children and adults. Several of her novels have been released as films (The Tale of Despereaux, Because of Winn-Dixie) and she’s won many awards (including the John Newbery Medal, the Josette Frank Award and the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award) for her contribution to children’s literature. She was the 2014–2015 US National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.

Harry Bliss, illustrator and cartoonist, is an American artist known for his cover work for the New Yorker and his syndicated newspaper comic, Bliss. Several of his books for children have become New York Times bestsellers—three of these (Diary of a Worm, Diary of a Spider and Diary of a Fly, all written by Doreen Cronin) are the inspiration for the upcoming Bug Diaries animated comedy television series. In 2014, Harry Bliss was awarded the Maurice Sendak Fellowship.

It’s obvious both Bliss and DiCamillo are dog lovers—the characters they’ve created in Good Rosie are so endearing and full of life. All three dogs are irresistible but Rosie, in particular, is gorgeous. The illustrations lay the story out in a comic-book format, with several frames of images on most pages. The cover is a winner. Rosie’s central ‘headshot’ is surrounded by four scenes around the edges that hint at the story’s action.

This heart-warming story for dog lovers young and old works on many levels. It’s about the importance of connection with others and the value of friendship in our lives. It’s about overcoming our fears and not making assumptions about people’s characters based on their appearance. It’s about persevering even when things get off to a bad start. Yes, making friends can be difficult, especially in the early days. What’s important is that we don’t give up.

Reviewed by: Jo Vabolis
Twitter: @JoVabolis

Rating out of 10: 10

Distributed by: Walker Books Australia
Released: October 2018
RRP: $24.99

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Irresistible

This heart-warming story for dog lovers young and old works on many levels. It’s about the importance of connection with others, the value of friendship, overcoming our fears and persevering even when things get off to a bad start.

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