Written by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee and Illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Simon & Schuster, 2005
Stay inside today, puppy puppy, please, puppy.
The plot in a nutshell: Two children spend time with a rambunctious puppy and try to teach it to follow their instructions
This very cute book features two children caring for their new puppy. The title comes from their many instructions to the puppy, many of which are ignored. The requests themselves are rhyming couplets, but each one is followed by a variation of the ‘please, puppy, please’ refrain. The puppy rolls in the mud and has to have a bath, from which it escapes. The books ends with the kids reassuring the puppy that he’s doing well and that he’s much loved.
Husband and wife authors Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee collaborated on Please, Baby, Please, which tells a very similar story, except with parents and a new baby. Of course, any fan of Spike Lee’s films recognizes that title as a catchphrase from his character Mars Blackmon from the 1986 movie, She’s Gotta Have It. It’s just adorable in this context, however, and you can practically hear the voices of the kids saying it over and over.
The artwork, by Kadir Nelson, is what makes the book really stand out. The pictures are rich with color and expression, with little details that leap off each page. In the picture showing the two kids bathing the dog in a green plastic pool, the kids are covered with soap bubbles and are having a wonderful time, while the puppy is patiently enduring it all. Later, when the puppy is shaking himself dry, the pages are covered with droplets of water that you can practically feel. And the picture at the end, with the kids, the dog and even the family cat in a warm embrace, eyes closed and smiling, you can definitely feel the love.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that puppies can be hard work, but the love they give you is worth it.