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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
Little Donny has two dogs: Snookie, an Australian Sheepdog, and Bitsy, a bulldog terrier mix. Donny loved his dogs. When Bitsy had four puppies, fathered by the dog next door, Donny loved them as well and helped Bitsy care for them. He checked on them frequently and was just as distressed as Bitsy when the puppies went missing, one at a time. Each time a puppy disappeared, there was one less puppy than before – allowing for a quick test in the young reader’s math skills. Donny looked everywhere each time a puppy went missing. He became a regular sleuth as he pondered what could possibly have happened to the puppies. He didn’t want to believe that someone had stolen them or, worse, that a wild animal had devoured them. So, he faithfully kept looking until he found them.
Mary Esparza-Vela’s picture book story, The Missing Pups, is beautifully told and colorfully illustrated by Visual Myths. The story is told in simple language, suitable for a young reader. Not only does the story (and the two female dogs and the four puppies) charm the reader, but it educates them as well. The author subtly instructs the young reader on the importance of providing proper care, especially with newborn puppies, and the importance of finding a suitable, loving home for the puppies when they’re old enough to leave their mother. This is not an easy task, as one does become attached to the cute little fur balls. But Donny takes it all in his stride. There is also a little bit of math instruction as each puppy that goes missing reduces the number of puppies remaining with Bitsy. All very cleverly constructed and told with passion.