Recommended Age Range: Preschool through 1st grade.
Publisher's Summary: Plum the dog loves being her family’s Special One. So when Binky the cat moves in next door and everyone showers him with attention, Plum feels left out. Cats are not her favorite thing! Binky follows Plum everywhere, even to the park, which everyone knows is not for cats. And on top of that, Binky is so annoyingly clever. Is he the new Special One? Or is there enough love for both of them?
Dr. Annie's Takeaways
Recommended for: This adorable book is great for animal lovers who have experienced or will be experiencing a change from being the “Special One” or “best one and only” to having to share someone’s love and attention. This would apply to children who are adjusting to sharing their parents with a new sibling or step-sibling; their grandparents, aunts, and uncles with a new cousin; their best friend with a new friend who wants to play; etc. It reassures children that there is “plenty of love to go around.”
Would a child like it? A pet-loving child who relates to Plum would likely love this book.
Tone: Charming, heartwarming
Story Quality: This story sensitively depicts the feeling of loss children feel when they go from being the one-and-only “Special One” to having to share a loved one’s attention and affection. It is also super adorable. I might particularly like it because it reminds me of my own pup, but other pet lovers will likely also think it’s very cute.
Illustrations: Sweet, crisp illustrations of friendly humans and cute pets.
Representation: Plum is a whippet-poodle-Jack Russel terrier mix based on the author’s real-life dog. Her owners, Emily and Rupert, are a White woman and man, and her best friends, Sam and Gracie, are the children who live next door. They are a White boy and girl. Binky is a male cat. Plum lives in a house with a big yard.
Psychological Practices: This story validates the painful feeling of having to share “Special One” status, and it reminds children that a new friend or sibling isn’t a threat but rather, there is “plenty of love to go around.” Plum is used to being her owners’ “Special One” and her neighbors’ “best one and only.” When her friends next door bring home a cat, Binky, she struggles to share the attention. Binky follows Plum everywhere and copies everything she does, and even worse, everyone thinks she’s “so clever.” She tells her dog park friends that Binky is ruining everything and shares that she is worried that her people love Binky more than her. Her dog friends suggest that maybe she could try being friends with Binky, and they insist that there’s enough love to go around. Back at home, Plum locks Binky out of the house, and he gets stuck in the rain. Plum’s owner Emma recognizes what’s going on and reassures Plum that she has plenty of room in her heart for both Binky and Plum. Emma reminds her that Plum also has a big heart and can be nice to Binky. The story ends with Plum proudly stating that she has a big heart as she snuggles with Binky. I love that this book reminds children that they too can open their hearts to newcomers and that this is something to be proud of.
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