Pauline Jacqueline Adams has written and illustrated a loving chronicle of her cherished Havanese puppy’s first year of life. Valentine (so named because he was a Valentine’s Day gift from Pauline’s husband Pappap) has white fur with black detail on his face. He is a perfect little bundle of happiness.
Every detail of Valentine’s first year is documented, from the town in which he was born and his birth name (Smores) to his first visit to his new veterinarian Dr. Johnson. We’re told about his favorite eating and sleeping habits and that Pauline kept two of his puppy teeth as a keepsake. When Valentine enters the Petco Dog Training School, he is trained to come when called, to sit, lay down and get up. His teacher Deanne thinks he is a fast learner. Some days Pauline’s granddaughter Jennifer brings Valentine’s friend Dylan over to play. On other days, he and Pauline keep each other, and Pappap, perfect company.
Adams’ illustrations are sweet and colorful, though her dog faces are more expressive than her human faces. The text however suffers from an excess of detail. For example, Valentine tells readers: “Deanna had a Halloween party for all the puppies. I dressed up as a pumpkin, and my friend Dylan was dressed as Dracula. We didn’t win anything…We got a certificate for participating. Next year I’m going to be a Christmas tree. That should be fun…” That leads to a passage about wintertime and all that the season brings, which leads to “It will soon be spring,” and how Valentine will “go outside and work. She will tie me under a shade tree…” and so on.
In short, biography overwhelms the art of storytelling here. As a result, this book will be treasured by family and friends, but may have less appeal to a wider audience.
Also available in hardcover.