Sunday, September 16, 2018

Book Review: Jennifer and Josephine by Bill Peet

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Cute story, wonderful illustrations
Cons: Might drag a little in the middle
The Bottom Line:
A car and a cat
Original odd couple
In charming story

The Story of a Stray Cat and Her Car

One of the things that makes Bill Peet’s books so much fun is that you never quite know what you will find when you pick one of them up.  For example, who would have ever expected a story about the friendship between a car and a cat?  But that’s what we get in Jennifer and Josephine.

Okay, so the car doesn’t really behave any differently than a car would normally behave, so we get most of the story from the point of view of Josephine.  Josephine has always been a stray cat, but when she finds Jennifer in a junk yard, she begins to think of Jennifer’s back seat as her home.  She even raises a litter of kittens there.  Jennifer is so old, Josephine assumes her days of driving are over.

So you can imagine their surprise when a traveling salesman comes along one day and buys Jennifer.  Unfortunately, he’s always in a hurry and takes huge risks with his driving.  How will this end for Jennifer and Josephine?

Since Josephine, the cat, is really our hook into this story, we come to care about Jennifer because of her.  And that does make us care during some scary moments.  No, they won’t frighten your kids, but this salesman does take some unnecessary risks.

And if there is any moral to this story, it’s about taking risks.  Or maybe it’s about the value of friendship since that does come into play in the climax.  Or maybe it’s just a story to enjoy with no need for a moral at all.

Bill Peet always created wonderful illustrations in his books, and this one is no exception.  They are detailed and help tell the story.  They are also filled with bright colors.  Kids will easily enjoy looking at the pictures as the book is read to them.

Since Bill Peet was writing and illustrating starting in the 1950’s, some of the styles in the illustrations are dated.  There’s also a reference to the 1930’s that will probably go over most kid’s heads.

Ironically for a story about a car and a fast driver, I do think this story drags a little in the middle, but that may just be me.  These books certainly do represent a slower time.  The slightly larger vocabulary will be a good challenge for kids.  No, there’s nothing here that will be too difficult, but there are some words that will expand the words they know.

Ultimately, Jennifer and Josephine will charm kids, so it is well worth tracking down.

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