KIRKUS STARRED REVIEW
In this small-enough-to-pack storybook, Violet and her dog, Pooch, take separate vacations: Violet to the beach, Pooch to Grandpa’s farm.
In a scene children will recognize, they each prepare a bag. Violet packs her doll Molly and crayons; Pooch, his stuffed Fluffy Cat and red ball. Violet worries that Pooch will miss her, although when she arrives at the beach, bright gouache-and–fabric-collage illustrations show that she’s happily distracted, playing, walking and dining. With a turn of the page, the action comes to a halt. In a full-page spread, readers see Violet in bed pulling Fluffy Cat instead of Molly from her bag. The guilt sets in. Violet’s crisis is well-placed, and what follows is her rapid, emotional recap of her activities contrasted with what she imagines Pooch must have suffered, bored and lonely, concluding with, “While I was having FUN, Pooch was MISERABLE!” Mom suggests a phone call to Grandpa. At first nonplussed when Grandpa tells her that Pooch has had a busy day, too, she is reassured when she learns that Pooch is sleeping with Molly—and remembers that she has Fluffy Cat—making their connection tangible and secure. Cocca-Leffler knows children inside and out.
Pitch-perfect, well-paced and with a conclusion that will leave children deeply satisfied, this is a book to be shared before any kind of separation and just for fun. (Picture book. 4-8)
A Vacation for Pooch
This book has a teensy-weensy trim size, which is fitting given the sweetness nestled inside. Violet is packing for vacation in Florida—adding her doll, crayons, and books to a bag—and also readying her dog, Pooch, for his stay at Grandpa’s farm. His identical green bag contains a leash, dog food, a red ball, and a stuffed toy, Fluffy Cat. Once Violet gets to Florida, she has a blast, until she goes to get her doll for bed and pulls out . . . a stuffed cat! With the wrong bag, she imagines the worst: a hungry, lonely, lost Pooch. Each of these pitiful visions appears as a vignette on a white background on one half of the page; on the
other half, in colorful full-bleed art, we see Violet now realizing she (selfishly) enjoyed herself while Pooch suffered. This setup cleverly switches when Violet calls her grandpa to check on Pooch—now she is the one sad and vignetted. It’s clear Pooch is living it up, full-bleed style. A cleverly conceived, charming little story for kids with beloved pooches of their own.
— Ann Kelley