Sunday, May 20, 2012

Toot & Puddle by Hollie Hobby

Toot & Puddle Wish You Were Here by Holly Hobbie

Rating: 5 rich, whimsical stars

Every week, we come across at least one new, good book at the library, one that captures my kids imagination or makes them laugh out loud or makes them ask me a thoughtful question or two.  But usually it's just one book.  We read it a bunch of times and return it, and check it out again whenever we want to experience what it offers again.

But once in a while we check out one book and then--to our delight!--that it is linked to a whole SERIES of books and then--joy oh joy!--we have a handful or, in this case, about a dozen books to read!  That is the case here.  How did I not know about these Toot & Puddle books before?  I feel like climbing to the top of the nearest hill in the playground and shouting at the top of my lungs while all the classes are playing.  Since I would definitely receive some crazy looks if I did that, I'll just tell you here and now.


We've seen the series advertised on TV but never watched them.  They show looks cute enough, but I admit I only reluctantly lets my kids watch TV.  Wanting to keep them ignorant on how many options there are out there, I'm always saying "no" to the kids when they ask me if they can watch a new show.  Anyway, I was at the library, looking for a book in the H section last month and saw Hollie Hobby's name.  Of course I recognized the name and pulled it out.  The cover illustration made me gasp.  So beautiful!  So thoughtful!  So whimsical!  So fun!

I grabbed all of the Toot & Puddle books as if a herd of moms were coming my way, looking for them.  That's right--I'm a book hoarder.  Hope you weren't looking for one of them in Fairfax County.  Because when I got home I ordered the rest of them online.

Okay, okay...I'll get to the books...!

My favorite book in the series right now is Wish You Were Here.  In it, Toot goes off to explore the world, sending postcards home to Puddle, who stays at home and can't imagine why Toot wants to see anything other than Woodcock Pocket, his (and Toot's) beloved home.  (This so strikes a cord with me--I so wanted (and still want to) see the world, and jetted off to Asia as soon as I could after graduating from college.  Why?!  Why is it that some people are so intent on flying, going, exploring while others are content with planting roots, staying, and just being?)

I got side-tracked.  Again.  Sorry.

Anyway, Toot goes off and has grand adventures while Puddle stays home.  When Toot returns, he is not his usual pink but...violet.  He has gotten some sickness and can't shake the blue color.  Puddle and his cousin Opal consult various doctors, the internet, and books and finally find a remedy that works.  Toot is pink again, and soon decides that his next adventure will be set in Woodcock Pocket.  He marries--at least momentarily--his longing to go and his desire to stay.  (As I have--at least momentarily!)

Right now I have two favorite things about these books:

First, I love the illustrations!  They aren't just gorgeous--that wouldn't be appropriate for a children's book with rich characters and a great story line.  They are thoughtfully created; no detail is left out, and the expressions on each little pig face is unique and animated.  These pigs are cute and funny, sweet and...somehow, real.

Second, I love how there are no grown ups.  I'm a fan of this in general with children's books, because I like when kids read about kids who are independent: they solve their own problems, create their own stories, come up with their own games.  I really believe that this helps inspire independence in little readers like Lorelei and Ben.

And if the books aren't enough for your kids, there is the TV show on Nick, Jr, and not one but TWO websites: one on a National Geographic, and one through Nick, Jr., that has games, printables, video clips, and more.  (Summer's coming up, so these printables might be the answer to your prayers one day.)

I love these books.  LOVE them!  They will be birthday books for our friends all summer long...

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