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The Problem with the Puddles Hardcover – February 24, 2009
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Collection of Five "Who Was" Biographies
In this box set, discover the life and times of five icons of black history and celebrate the difference they made in the world. Hardcover
"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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The Puddles are getting ready to leave their country home for the city. Mr. and Mrs. Puddle once agreed until neither could agree on a name for their daughter. Mr. Read morePublished on April 28, 2013 by The Three Woods
I read The Problem with the Puddles aloud to my kids and while I had a hard time not yelling at the characters in the book when they were being ridiculous my kids enjoyed their... Read morePublished on April 22, 2013 by Marisa
The Puddles are a family of oddballs who can't seem to get anything quite right--perhaps because for the past several years, the only thing Mr. and Mrs. Read morePublished on October 20, 2009 by The Children's Book Reporter
Like several other reviewers, I'm an adult and could not bring myself to finish this book. Mind you, I'm not usually too old for kids' books. Read morePublished on August 5, 2009 by Amazon Customer
This book cannot be read to children in one sitting. Its repetitive nature will drive you crazy, but my very young grandkids who cannot read seem to enjoy it. Read morePublished on July 23, 2009 by R. Smith
This was such a unique and interesting story. Two parents are constantly disagree, two children try to put up with it, and two family dogs get left at their vacation home. Read morePublished on July 21, 2009 by Karyn W
Having read over the reviews of this book, I would have to concur with the adult readers of this book--it is a bit repetitive, and not that enjoyable for an adult reader, but then... Read morePublished on July 15, 2009 by jessbcuz
The "Problem with the Puddles" is a cute tween story. The star of the book is Baby. Baby has parents who love to disagree. Read morePublished on July 13, 2009 by S. Woods
It's conflict resolution for children! A family (like all) plagued with disagreement and mistakes takes a road trip to their city home, but leaves their dogs by mistakes. Read morePublished on July 5, 2009 by Victor Blake