Book Review: Toot & Puddle You Are My Sunshine By Holly Hobbie

Sometimes a bad mood finds you. It is hard to explain, but the day just doesn’t feel right and finding a smile is incredibly difficult. This happens to everyone, but adults are usually better at realizing it, understanding it, and working it out. For children, moods and emotions are tough to master. This is where books like Toot & Puddle You Are My Sunshine come in. This book is part of a series about two pigs named Toot and Puddle by author/illustrator Holly Hobbie.

Holly Hobbie is familiar to many, but these charming pigs may not be the image her name conjures up. She is often best known for her cat-loving, rag dress-wearing little girl in a giant bonnet that appeared in the late 60s. This character was nameless, but soon began to be known as “Holly Hobbie” due to her creator. In case you are wondering, the Holly Hobbie character continues to live on in her supposed “granddaughter” who is a very modern, computer-graphic animated character of blue eyes and blonde hair. She is part of a spin-off line created in 2006 called “Holly Hobbie and Friends.” I would love to dive into my heartache at taking such a lovely hand-drawn character and mutating her into the slick and polished cartoons of present entertainment… but that is not what we are here for.

The real Holly Hobbie has been working for over thirty years, has seven Toot & Puddle picture books, as well as a few other books here and there including the new Gem and one of my absolute favorites for girls, Fanny.

The plot: Toot & Puddle You Are My Sunshine opens assuming that you know and care about the main characters, Toot and Puddle. We jump right in to a beautiful sunny morning where everyone is happy, except Toot, who is moping.

Puddle and parrot friend, Tulip, are quite concerned about Toot and spend a great deal of effort attempting to cheer him up, including special treats, a party, and wild adventure; but nothing seems to work.

Surprisingly, a sudden fierce storm sweeps through their little town and rediscovers the old Toot with his bouncy step and smiling face. In the end, the three friends relax together and ponder the change of events which Toot seems oblivious to, except for the fact that he has great friends.

The verdict: Now I love Toot & Puddle books dearly, and this one is charming. However, this book struggles to stand on its own. I don’t mind the assumption that you know the characters and love them, I mean, who couldn’t love the sweet faced, well-mannered, and playfully dressed pigs? But the book’s flow is mildly disjointed. The text is just barely too sparse in a few places and although something big happens, it is almost anticlimactic in its handling.

I do love the concept and its delicate way of dealing with moods. Puddle never gets angry with Toot’s demeanor and is actually quite loving in doing everything he can think of to bring Toot back around. This is a wonderful example, especially for siblings. And you can definitely relate to Toot just feeling out-of-sorts and moping around, even though we aren’t told what is wrong. Sometimes you just don’t know.

I definitely encourage reading this book and especially the other Toot & Puddle books. Perhaps this one just struggles a bit in being one in a series. It still has the same charming qualities and lovable characters, even if the meat isn’t all there. Enjoy the simplicity and be prepared to help it along by discussing what’s happening a little more. Don’t be afraid to wonder what could be causing Toot’s moping and come up with better ways of handling such feelings. If nothing else, reading this book may help lighten someone’s mood and the storm might blow their worries away too.

The art: And now I must drool over Holly Hobbie’s mad watercolor skills. I seriously love her artwork. The piglets are just precious in their simple yet expressive forms. The colors are light and airy yet can also be moody and dramatic. The art from Holly Hobbie never disappoints in being lovely and endearing. Every image is practically frame-worthy!

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