Hazel Mitchell, Author and Illustrator
Candlewick Press, Fiction, Sep. 13, 2016
Suitable for Ages: 4-6
Themes: Rescue Dogs, Boy, Animals, Moving
Opening: “Hey, bud! Can you help me unpack? Sure. Dad…could we get a dog?”
Synopsis: A boy and his father move into a new house. The boy convinces his father that they should get a dog. They visit a local animal rescue center and the boy immediately likes a dog named Toby. Toby is shy and overwhelmed in his new home. He doesn’t want to play and eat his food. He hides under tables, curls up in a ball, and leaves some doggy puddles. Toby is having a difficult time adjusting. But the boy is patient, persistent and hopeful that Toby will settle into his new home.
Why I like this book:
Author-illustrator Hazel Mitchell’s heartwarming story about Toby will both tug at your heart and put a smile on your face. Toby is adorable even though he has a tough time adjusting to the boy and his new forever home. The boy really wants to connect with his new dog. He understands Toby better than anyone because he has moved into a new home and neighborhood. That’s why the boys wants to adopt a new best friend. I can’t think of a better match!
The boy narrates the story. The text is spare and reveals a kind-hearted and sensitive boy who eagerly wants to bond with Toby. The boy expresses so much tenderness towards Toby, even when he chews a pair of glasses and tramples his father’s garden. The ending is endearing. Mitchell’s illustrations are rendered in soft pastels. They are expressive and lively. Make sure you check out the end pages in the book. They set the stage for the story and wrap it up quite nicely. Verdict: Toby is a winner! I can’t wait to give Toby to my great-grandson for Christmas! He loves dogs.
Resources: Make sure you read the author’s note at the end of the book about Mitchell’s own pet rescue experience with her white poodle — the real Toby — who inspired this book. If you are interested in learning more about adopting a pet from a rescue shelter, visit your local shelter with your parents.
Hazel Mitchell has illustrated numerous books for children, including Imani’s Moon. Toby is her author-illustrator debut. Originally from Yorkshire, England, she now lives in Maine with her husband and a brave rescue poodle named Toby, whose eight-day disappearance drew national attention when the story was shared across social media. Visit Hazel Mitchell on her website.
Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Book Fridays (PPBF) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.