About the Book
Title: Puppy Love (When We Were Kids, Book #2) | Author: Flo Barnett | Publication Date: May 28, 2014 | Publisher: Independent | Pages: 144 | Recommended Ages: 8 to 13 | Reviewed by: Renee (Mother)
Summary: PUPPY LOVE (When We Were Kids, Book 2) is the second book in Flo Barnett’s new chapter series appropriate for ages 9 -99!
My Thoughts: Puppy Love is the second book in the When We Were Kids series by Flo Barnett, sneaking a glimpse into life as a child in the 1950’s. In this charming tale, 8 year-old Betty Lou enters 3rd grade and 11 year-old Danny enters 6th grade in a Catholic school where the teachers are nuns and morning prayers are part of the daily rituals. For the first time, both Betty Lou and Danny experience “puppy love”: Betty Lou with a fellow classmate, Bobby; and Danny with his fellow classmate, Emily. During this confusing time, Betty Lou finds solace by writing letters about her thoughts and feelings to her deceased father and her grandmother lovingly discusses with her all there is to know about “puppy love”.
Puppy Love is set in 1950’s America where life was more simple with children diving for pennies in the pool in the summer and sliding down the snowy hill on their sleds on “snow days”. While life was certainly different in the 1950’s with no video games, cell phones and other electronic toys, some things were exactly the same; namely, “puppy love” and “bullying” – two themes covered in this story. Both Betty Lou and Danny experience puppy love, but they both, sadly, experience bullying as well. Alas, some things do not change.
Relationships play an important role in this story. The relationship between “Baba” (i.e., grandmother) and Betty Lou was very sweet. In the opening chapter, the two are making paczki (a pastry) together and she is the one to sit down with Betty Lou to explain “puppy love”. I love the focus on this relationship in particular. The relationship between Danny and Betty Lou reminded me of the relationship I have with my brother which of course involves a great deal of love and frustration as well. Even the relationships among Betty Lou and her friends, whom together form the “Fearsome Foursome”, is well-developed. And finally, it is very touching how Betty Lou pens letters to her father as a way to keep him up to date with her life.
At the end of the book, there is a lovely letter from the author explaining the intention of the book series, When We Were Kids, (namely to describe life in the 1950’s as a child). There are a series of photos from these times as well as short snippets of what life was like for the author. As an added bonus, there are a number of “Talking Points” to initiate discussion about some of the themes and events that took place in the story. I thought the talking points were excellent although I’m not sure that children would get as much out of the photos and description as an adult would.
While Puppy Love is a lovely story, I did have an issue with the perspective changes in the book. The story is told primarily through the eyes of Betty Lou, but there are sudden and unnecessary changes in the perspective from Betty Lou to Danny. I feel that the flow would have been better maintained if the story was told solely through Betty Lou’s perspective or if the perspectives were evenly spread out through the story.
My Bottom Line: Puppy Love is a lovely glimpse into life as a child during simpler times in the 1950’s. The story centres around two children who experience “puppy love” and bullying – two common tween experiences. The characters and the relationships amongst the characters is very well done and readers will enjoy this journey into different times as experienced first-hand by the author herself. I recommend Puppy Love for children ages 8 to 12 who enjoy reading about the experiences of other children from a different time.
* This book was provided to me by the author free-of-charge in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. The author is participating in our Book Promotion Services.*
The Buzz About the Book
“A story of innocence and growing up. Puppy Love took me back to a simpler time when life was less complicated and youngsters weren’t bombarded by all the things they are today. This is a lovely story of family life and Betty Lou and Danny experiencing their first crushes and all the difficult emotions and conflicts that come with that. Delightful story!” ~ 5 Star Review, Loves Reading, Amazon
“Once again I was enchanted with this author’s work. Puppy Love is such a poignant phrase and captures the joy, and insecurities of that tender time. I think it’s true when they say you never forget your first love.” ~ 5 Star Review, Katy W., Amazon
“Once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down. My teenage daughter even enjoyed it. Neither of us grew up in the 50’s but the author gave me a delightful insight into life during that time. I can’t wait to read what Betty Lou and Danny discover next. Looking forward to the next book. ” ~ 5 Star Review, Monica B., Amazon
About the Author: Flo Barnett
Flo Barnett focuses her attention on publishing chapter books geared towards children, ages 9+. She explores serious topics such as abuse, bullying, and loss of a loved one in a sensitive manner in order to empower youngsters to face adversity with courage and conviction.
During her professional career in education, Ms. Barnett was a preschool administrator and daycare provider. She also taught kindergarten and elementary school for many years. Now retired, she also writes hilarious tales for, and sometimes based on the real-life antics of her seven energetic grandchildren, whom she loving refers to as, Grammy’s Gang.
Flo lives near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with her hubby, Barry, and her dog, Shadow.
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