Today's pick is timely for us in that we just added a new member to our family - a sweet and affectionate kitty named Jasper. We recently had to put our beloved dog to sleep, and the house just hasn't been the same without someone to greet us at the end of the day, so off we went to the shelter and came home with a feline friend. I immediately thought of a book we first read last year. Although Amy Hest's Charley's First Night is about a boy and his dog, the sentiments in it were just right for how we've felt this last few days with our new pet.
Charley is Henry's new puppy; Henry picked his name and Henry is responsible for his new friend, a prospect the little boy finds quite thrilling. On Charley's first night home, Henry does all he can to make the puppy comfortable, helping him understand the ins and outs of the household. Henry's mother and father were very clear on one point: Charley is to sleep in the kitchen, no ifs, ands, or buts. Unfortunately, though, that turns out not to be so great from Charley's point of view, as the little pup commences crying in the night. Henry's there to soothe his friend, and help him get through the first night - even if it's not exactly how Mom and Dad pictured it.
This is a gentle tale with a timeless quality about it, one that would make a perfect addition to any library or collection. Hest narrates from Henry's point of view, and she once again has the child's perspective and voice down pat. And Helen Oxenbury's illustrations -- if there's anyone else whose work so aptly encapsulates cozy and warm and wonderful all in a simple spread, I've yet to find them. Plus there's the added bonus of Oxenbury's dumpling of a doggy. Honestly, Charley makes me wish I could scoop him right off the page.
Charley's First Night is acquaintance, friendship and compassion all rolled into one delightfully charming picture book. Add this one to your library list and curl up with it on a chilly night!