In the rhyming picture book Immy Gives Scruffy a Makeover, an appearance-obsessed girl falls for a less-than-elegant dog and ostensibly learns beauty is more than skin deep.
Immy’s parents worry that she only cares about clothes and make-up and decide that having a dog could teach her to care about more important things. They go to the local humane society, and Immy browses through various beautiful dogs, including a poodle and greyhound, imagining how they would complement her appearance. However, she determines there’s a spark missing with each.
Eventually, she finds a shaggy older dog and is taken by his soft eyes and lonely expression. She names him Scruffy and plies him with attention. “Immy sees the beauty within him,” the narrative tells readers as the story ends on a happy note for both the protagonist and her rescued friend.
The illustrations support the story without stealing the show, and the lesson presented is positive, with a young person learning that relationships—including those with furry friends—must be built on personality and other factors, not just looks.
However, the message is muddled when Immy announces that she’s going to give Scruffy a makeover. Immy’s dad compliments his daughter for choosing a dog that isn’t glamorous, but she remains focused on Scruffy’s looks: “ ‘Oh don’t worry Dad,’ Immy said with a smile./ [sic] I’ve got so many plans for my Scruffy./ I’ll give him a bath and spray on your cologne./ I’ll make him all gorgeous and fluffy. [sic]” She paints his eyebrows, plucks stray hairs, and declares: “He’s a prince now, no longer a mutt.” All of this suggests Immy hasn’t really learned the lesson.
Additionally, technical errors —a sentence fragment, missing quote marks and commas—mar the presentation.
The book’s heart is in the right place, and a simple rewrite could rectify the issue. As is, though, the main character only partly comes to understand the importance of looking below surface glitz.
Also available as an ebook.