Coco is an adorable puppy.

To tell you the truth, I feel kind of bad being the first person to rate this book poorly. I kind of always feel bad when someone requests a review from me and I have to go into it admitting to the fact that I really just didn’t like their book. I can be quite critical and for me, unfortunately, Coco the Adorable Puppy by Jacqueline Stavreski and illustrated by Tullip Studio just didn’t work for me.

You shouldn’t have to tell me…

You kind of know you’re in for a bad book when the author has to tell you something and has no interest in showing it to you. I, quite frankly, take issue with the very first line of this book. “Coco is an adorable puppy.” You already put this in the title (where it frankly didn’t belong because this book had nothing to do with Coco being adorable). You don’t need to repeat yourself on the first page.

And, unfortunately, I don’t really think Coco is all that adorable. So, that’s another strike against the book. Not only did I need to be told that this puppy was cute, but I didn’t even agree. As a reader, this genuinely made me feel as though the author couldn’t trust me to come to the conclusion myself that, yes, puppies are cute.

And I know that I am not the intended audience. This is a book for children. But I hate when books treat children like they are dumb. As if a child couldn’t come to the conclusion that, yes, puppies are cute. Does Stavareski think that children can’t recognize when puppies are cute? Cause it sure seems like it.

So, I’ll just leave you with this: children are not dumb and they can recognize cute puppies without you telling them to.

The Message

Okay, so the overall message of this book isn’t bad. I can get on board with a children’s story that teaches kids about appreciating their strengths. That is a great message to send to kids. But oh dear skies, the execution.

There’s this thing called verisimilitude and basically, it accounts to how believable a fictional story is. It may not seem important when writing a story about a puppy with a message about appreciating your strengths, but it’s important in any story.

Coco the Adorable Puppy does not have verisimilitude.

I couldn’t suspend my disbelief once while reading about Coco. Sure, a dog might get sad if she can’t sit on beanbags with her family or crawl all over their bed. They might be sad if they don’t get to go on trips. But to liken that to some ridiculous notion that the reason the dog isn’t allowed to do these things is because she’s not “amazing at anything” was too much. This book was trying so hard to put children’s emotions into a puppy and it just did not work.

And to make matters worse I had to spend half the book looking at a depressed puppy, certain that there was never going to be anything she’d be good at. I just. What????

Then there’s the resolution which was…dumb. So, she’s amazing at being a puppy. She realizes this. And then she’s happy again thus rendering the entire purpose behind giving her the feelings a child might have utterly pointless.

Thanks. I hate it.

Was This a Coloring Book?

I also didn’t like the artwork. At all. This ties back into the fact that, no, I didn’t find Coco cute. It’s a personal preference, but it’s largely because I didn’t like the artwork. I’m sure if Coco were a real puppy, it’s possible I’d think she was cute (depending on the breed).

And, ultimately, all of the artwork reminded me of a coloring book. I kept thinking as I read it that the whole thing seemed like something someone had gotten in a coloring book and decided to write a very underdeveloped story for. And while the idea behind it was fine, the entire execution just did not lead to a great story.

So, I feel bad, but I didn’t like anything about this book other than its overall message. And that message wasn’t even told in a way that I could really appreciate. I wouldn’t buy this myself nor give it to someone I know. I wouldn’t recommend it. There are tons of books out there with this same message that are much better. And that’s a hard truth.

It’s not a bad book. But it’s not a good one, either.

I accessed a “free” copy of this book via Kindle Unlimited.


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