I have yet to read a terrible children’s book featuring a pug. Puddle Pug, written by Kim Norman and illustrated by Keika Yamaguchi, is the latest in our family’s long line of adored stories about pugs. If you know a pug, you know they are spirited little creatures — some naughty and grumpy, some silly and playful, and some are a fun blend of many personality traits (sometimes at the same time!). Norman’s book features a sweet, smart pug named Percy, and he thoroughly enjoys puddles.
Percy is a canine puddle reviewer, really. He checks out all the puddles in his neighborhood and critiques them. He then places each on a map with a descriptor like “swampy” or “froggy” or “deeper.” They’re all swell puddles, but they each leave just a little something to be desired. One day he finds a puddle he hasn’t tried. It’s a muddy puddle full of baby pigs — he calls it a friendly puddle. He jumps in and finds his holy grail of puddles. It is PERFECT… except that the piglets’ mother does not want Percy around, and she kicks him out.
Percy can’t stop thinking about that perfect puddle. He tries to find even more new puddles, but they are all wrong. Percy goes back to the piggy puddle and tries to sneak in and woo the mama pig, but she is not having any of it. Percy sulks and walks away.
One day, there is a storm, and a tree falls into the perfect puddle. Mama pig cannot find the smallest of her piglets. Percy consults his map and finds her in the smallest of nearby puddles, winning the mama pig over, and earning himself anytime access to that perfect, friendly mud puddle.
Yamaguchi’s illustrations are both playful and soothing. You see Percy’s expressions and feelings very clearly, and the natural world he’s exploring is presented in soft earthtones. His maps are especially adorable, with his little pug penmanship noting each known puddle.
Norman’s story is very sweet, and her style is perfect for a read aloud. There are short sections of fun rhyming that kids will enjoy, but it doesn’t get contrived. There are just a few sentences per page, and the voice of the narrator is peaceful and easy for even the most awkward-feeling grownup to read to a group of children. This would be a perfect book for a teacher or guest classroom reader to share, and it’s a perfect book for mom or dad to read aloud at bedtime, too.