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The Problem with the Puddles Hardcover – February 24, 2009


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books (February 24, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416949615
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416949619
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,419,228 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

A simple drive from the country to the city becomes an adventure for the Puddle family, which includes eight-year-old Baby; her older brother, Tom; and their two parents, who cannot agree on anything. The trip includes moments of catastrophe (noticing that they have inadvertently left their dogs, Big Sally and Little Sally, behind; realizing that their car has broken down and tipped over) and some happy reunions as well. Some of the best scenes occur in the parallel journey of the two Sallies as they faithfully follow their family down the road. The alternating human and canine narratives converge near the story’s end. Capturing the story’s somewhat daffy but entirely likable characters to perfection, Tusa’s expressive drawings (seen as pre-publication sketches) add their own element of humor. The very occasional space where readers are encouraged to write in the book should not keep libraries from adding this amusing and original story to their collections. An offbeat but rewarding chapter book for reading alone or aloud. Grades 3-5. --Carolyn Phelan

Review

"The Problem with the Puddles is a blast from first page to last. My only complaint is that I didn't write it!" -- Sara Pennypacker, author of Clementine

"As far as I'm concerned, the only problem with the Puddles is that there aren't enough books about them. Now that I've actually met this eccentric family and their adventurous dogs, now that I've lived in their damp and wonderful world, now that I can actually see them, thanks to Tricia Tusa's marvelous drawings, I can't get enough of them. So hop to it, Kate Feiffer.... The world needs more Puddles!" -- Nick Bruel, author of Bad Kitty

"'ROMP: to play or frolic in a lively, boisterous manner.' That's what we have right here. Take one endearing, exasperating family, two cozily canny canines, a plot that insists on going where you least expect it to, and just enough outrageous wordplay and you have as much fun as you can handle." -- Norton Juster, author of The Phantom Tollbooth

This capricious novel marks Feiffer's (President Pennybaker) move into middle-grade fiction, in a story about a family that, for some reason, attracts clouds ("It was as if the cloud suddenly forgot it was heading to a hurricane in Florida or an important blizzard in Canada"). Additionally, the Puddle parents disagree on everything: one of their children is called Baby because they couldn't choose a name. And since the couple squabbled over a breed, the Puddles have two dogs-both named Sally. Alternating between the perspectives of the two- and four-legged family members, the story reveals what happens when the Puddles inadvertently leave "the Sallys" behind at the end of a long vacation in the country. The kid-friendly humor ("Just like meat loaf is like a loaf of meat, a conundrum is like a drum of conun," one of the Sallys "explains," as the dogs consider what to do), the full cast of eccentric characters and Tusa's (Fred Stays with Me!) lively b&w spot art should readily win fans for the Puddle family. -- (Publishers Weekly)

"The kid-friendly humor … the full cast of eccentric characters and
Tusa’s lively b&w spot art should readily win fans for the Puddle family.” -- Publishers Weekly, starred review

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Customer Reviews

That said, I couldn't even FINISH the book because it was so boring.
Jennifer
Nonetheless, even adults will enjoy this story for its lovable, zany characters and cute illustrations (which add to the text remarkably well).
The Children's Book Reporter
The Puddles are a fun and wacky family which includes Mr. and Mrs. Puddle, Tom, Baby and their 2 dogs, both named Sally.
G. Messersmith

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By D. Salerni on March 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I couldn't stand this book. In fact, I could not finish it.
My 8 1/2 year old daughter, however, loved it. She read the whole thing in less than 24 hours.
Thus ... this mixed review.

I found the text to be repetitive and the dialogue downright aggravating. Humor is apparently to be found in saying things over and over again. A typical structure for a chapter goes like this: Every member of the Puddle family makes an exclamation. Then they all make the same exclamation again. Then the dialogue is repeated a third time, with blanks in appropriate places for the reader to fill in. To me, this seems like an author with nothing to say.

In fact, when I realized that the author has published 4 pictures books, I understood what the problem was. The storyline for The Problem with the Puddles would be perfect for a picture book. However, when swollen into a 200 page novel, there just isn't enough content to spread out. Thus, the repetition.

Now, the other side of the story:

My daughter giggled her way through the entire book and (I'm told) read it during class at school. She loved how the chapters detailed alternating points of view -- first the Puddles, and then their dogs. She liked how random characters "fit in" at the end, turning out to be long-lost brothers, and so on. She enjoyed how various characters presented their dilemmas in a math problem format. And apparently, she liked "how things repeated."

So ... A big thumbs up from a third grader. A big thumbs down from her mother. If you're looking for a gift for a juvenile reader, this might be it. If you're looking for some worthy literature to read with your class, I don't think this is it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jordan K. Henrichs on January 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
THE PROBLEM WITH THE PUDDLES is not a book for adults. Not even adults that read a lot of children's literature and appreciate children's literature. In order for an adult to truly appreciate Kate Feiffer's book, they would have to let go of being an adult, and read it through the eyes of the child inside of them. Some adults can do that easier than others. Some simply can't do that at all. It would be a shame for an adult reader to judge this book on something it's not!

The Puddle family has plenty of problems! Mr. and Mrs. Puddle, were never able to agree on a name for their youngest daughter Baby and have long since "agreed to disagree". What Mrs. Puddle wants, Mr. Puddle doesn't. What Mr. Puddle wants, Mrs. Puddle doesn't. So naturally, when Mrs. Puddle wants the rainy weather to clear up so the family can return to their home in the city, Mr. Puddle becomes overjoyed when the bad weather forces them to remain in their country home a little longer than planned. When the rain clouds depart and the Puddles leave their city home in a hurried rush, left behind are the two family pets: Big Sally and Little Sally. Missing their owners and worried they may never return, the two dogs set off in the direction of the city, hoping to reunite with their chaotic owners.

This quite frankly, may be the strangest children's book I've ever read. From the zany characters and the ridiculous things they say and do, to the author's incessant play on words, to the alternating chapters that switch from the Puddles' point of view to their dogs' point of view, this book is anything but normal. Rarely does the plot go where the reader expects it to as the Puddles' trip and the dogs' dilemma gets further and further off track.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Altar Boy VINE VOICE on March 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In order to write a fair book review I decided to have my sister, a 30+ year elementary school teacher (with a Masters in Special Education) read the book. She reported back to me: "Working with children, I look for books that have text that pull the reader in, not ramble on. In this book, the Puddles are crammed into an overloaded vehicle to return to their city home and leave behind the dogs which are both named Sally. The dogs have more sense that the adults in that they value `family' and want to return to their owners even if it means walking there. The children have more values than their parents in that they truly want their dogs back even if it means sneaking out a bathroom window and hitchhiking. The disagreeable parents just want to return to their `ideal' residence and will use any argument to continue toward their preferred home. In my opinion this book was too long and at time monotonous, children like a lively dialog that gets to the point. I would not buy this book for my classroom. My advice is that a prospective buyer should seek elsewhere for better text selections." Based upon an expert's assessment and my desire to give the author the benefit of the doubt I give the book 3 stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Unity Dienes on March 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
My two ten-year-olds thought this was pretty funny, although a fast read. One commented that he thought it was a little "confusing, but good" and the other said it was a little too "young" for him but he still liked it. They each finished it in about a sitting. I think they would give it about 4 stars. A fun way to pass a few hours, but not destined to be a favorite.

Like some other reviewers, I tried reading it, and had a hard time getting through it. It was totally unfunny, uninspired, and frankly, very boring. The characters were shallow, the dialogue insipid, and the plot uncompelling. The situations felt artificial, and the characters' behavior seemed contrived only to inspire a laugh and not out of any real human motivation. Think of a bad sit-com, and you've got the idea of how this book struck me.

Still, I'd give it about two stars for at least trying to be original in some of the writing (like putting in mad-lib type blanks for the reader to fill in).

Average of my two stars and the kids' four stars makes this about a three-star book for our family.
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