Thursday, June 24, 2010

Toot and Puddle

The first time I saw the name Holly Hobbie on the book Toot and Puddle, I thought it was a mistake. Actually what I thought was “I had a doll with that name when I was young” and “I remember greeting cards with that character”. I thought the author had borrowed the name. Instead the author is the one who created the namesake character. Holly has been in the business of creating memorable characters for quite a while. I loved my Holly Hobbie doll but Toot and Puddle, the pigs living at Woodcock Pocket, completely stole my heart.

Toot and Puddle is actually a series of books. There are 11 stories so far and Holly does seem to be stopping anytime soon. Toot and Puddle are adorable pigs who share a house in the woods. Puddle is a homebody, content to bake and cook in the kitchen, wallow in a good bath, and play in the snow. Toot is a traveler, constantly seeking out new places and friends. The book follows the adventures of each during the course of a year. Toot’s story is told in the postcards he sends home to Puddle along with full page illustration of his adventures. On the other side, we get to watch Puddle enjoying his favorite parts of the season. So when Toot is spending winter in Africa with the hippos, Puddle is ice-skating and playing in the snow at home. Both are having a wonderful time, doing the things they love.

The story itself is very basic, often just telling what each character is doing. Toot’s story gives a bit more detail since his are told through postcards. The writing is wonderful on that account. The postcards sound like what people typically send on postcards. Puddle’s story is often told in little snippets. But you really don’t need the text for Puddle’s story. The images say it all. Holly’s watercolors are amazing! She manages to create lovable characters through her detailed illustrations. It’s the little things that make a difference in her art. Every part of the house is lovingly created and I was floored at how beautiful her images are. I want to live with Toot and Puddle. The house, the grounds, and Toot’s locations are created in adorable detail. There is a warmth to these places. Plus the characters themselves seem to radiate warmth and joy. We can see the obvious happiness on both of the character’s faces as they do the things they love. But we can also see the connection between the two friends. In only 32 pages we see two very different friends who have one of the strongest friendships I’ve ever seen in a children’s book. Whether it’s traveling to exotic destinations or just baking a soufflé, these are some wonderful pigs.

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