Thursday, January 24, 2008

Fred Stays with Me

Coffelt, Nancy. 2007. FRED STAYS WITH ME! Ill. by Tricia Tusa. New York: Little, Brown. ISBN 9780316882699 [Suggested Grade Levels K-3]

A young girl sometimes lives with her mother and sometimes with her father. She describes the different beds she has in each house and how meals are run. Whichever house she’s staying, she takes her dog, Fred. At her mother’s house, Fred barks furiously at the neighbor’s poodle. At her father’s house, Fred steals her father’s socks. Both parents are frustrated with Fred and don’t want him to visit, but the child says, “Fred doesn’t stay with either of you. Fred stays with me.” She quietly reveals that “When I’m happy, Fred is, too. And when I’m sad, Fred is there.”

The illustrations are in a warm, soft palette, and Fred is quite a personality. His ears are perky and he’s got a round, soft body that invites snuggling. Tusa portrays the girl smiling in the pictures as if she has everything under control. The illustrations are square and centered onto white pages with the simple text that is mirrored in the pictures.

The word divorce is never used; there is no sentimentality here, just a little girl making the best of her situation. Now that her parents know how she feels, they work with her to come up with a plan to make Fred’s stay more orderly. The end is a simple repetition of the beginning reassuring us that all is well.

Invite children to share similar experiences – whether or not they have two houses or whether or not they have a pet that shares their ups and downs.

Another book by the same author:
PUG IN A TRUCK. ISBN 9780618563197

By Cay Geisler

No comments: