Two dogs enjoy their gifts from Santa in very different ways in the photo picture book Peaches and Jake Celebrate Christmas.
Jake, a ten-year-old dog, and Peaches, his six-year-old sister, are awakened Christmas morning by their “Mommy” and discover they’ve each been given a bone and a stuffed toy as gifts. But while Jake is soon enjoying his gifts, Peaches takes longer to discern what her toy, “Miss Fox,” or “Foxie,” is for. Eventually, she naps with the soft toy and begins keeping it close and entirely intact. Meanwhile, Jake’s toy, “Mr. Moose,” or “Moosie,” doesn’t fare as well; roughed up by both dogs, he loses an arm, a leg, and his stuffing. At book’s end, Miss Fox is still in good shape, while all that remains of Moosie is a scrap of fabric.
Told through text and photographs, the story is written in a charming, kid-friendly way. It’s fun and appealing, and a young audience will delight in the dogs’ differing styles: Jake much rougher with his toy than Peaches.
However, the text has some quirks. The omniscient narrator refers to the dogs’ “Mommy” throughout the story, but Mommy isn’t in any of the photos, and while her identity as the author is disclosed in the Introduction and “About the Author” page, it isn’t made explicitly clear in the story itself. With thoughts and spoken sentences attributed to Peaches and Mommy alike, the distinction between human and dog isn’t always clear.
Also, the dogs’ destruction of Moosie comprises much of the action, but most of it happens offstage, with only the results of the roughhousing shown on succeeding pages. This lends a static feeling to the visuals. Otherwise, the photos generally complement the storytelling; they’re mostly (but not always) well-lit, sharp and effective at capturing the dogs’ sweet expressions.
Overall, this is a simple tale with quiet drama, but its uncomplicated approach will be reassuring and appealing to youngsters who like animals.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.