Three Gryphon Press Books Reviewed

Always Blue for Chicu

Always Blue for Chicu is a fantastic picture book that will hopefully get the recognition it deserves.

Chicu is a wild parrot, captured in his native land, and shuttled from home to home until he finally finds happiness with those who respect him for who he is. While the theme could have possibly been downbeat and depressing in another’s hands, Dugan skillfully blends humor and wildly colorful characters throughout the story, and the appealing illustrations just add to the merriment. Adults and children alike will be laughing out loud.

Gentle lessons are imparted throughout without detracting from the story: wild animals belong in the wild; parrots are not cats, dogs, or decorative items–they have specialized and demanding needs of their own.

A more in-depth section is presented at the end of the book for adult readers. It gives a warts-and-all rundown of the realities of parrot care. And kudos to the author for not letting the parrot selling industry off the hook–she also touches on its problems.

Are You Ready for Me? (Sit! Stay! Read!)

I’ll bet animal shelter workers would like to hand out copies of this book for free in their lobbies.

Are You Ready for Me? is, quite simply, one of the best dog care books available for the picture-book set. Children love dogs, and just about every child at one point begs his/her parents for a puppy. However, not every household is ready for the major responsibility of keeping a dog. By encouraging critical thinking skills, the author attempts to head off the impulsive choices that often end with dogs in shelters .

Children (and parents) will get a reality check about the pros and cons of dog care–dogs need walked, even in the rain and cold–and discuss whether they are willing to provide such care. Best of all, the end of the book reassures children whose families are not ready for a dog that they can still love canines even if they don’t yet have one of their own. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a children’s book that’s ever taken the wise position that keeping a pet just isn’t right for everyone.

The book concludes with a dog care checklist for the entire family.

A Home for Dakota (Sit! Stay! Read!)

The subject of puppy mills is not one often addressed in picture books, for obvious reasons. A Home for Dakota, however, comes closest to discussing a tough topic without being overly upsetting to youngsters. There are still a few potential tear triggers, however, so parents of especially sensitive children will want to review the book first.

Dakota is a puppy mill dog who is rescued from her confines and fostered by a caring and gentle woman named Emma. Dakota has lost most of her fur, has accidents on the floor, and is painfully shy, but Emma sees something special in her. So does the special little girl who eventually adopts her.

The end of the book has a section for parents with further in-depth discussion of the puppy mill industry and ways to avoid supporting it. I was immensely pleased to see this–how many parents head to the local pet shop when their child begs for a dog? However, this choice dooms real-life Dakotas.

(Gryphon Press specializes in humane education books.)

Reviews originally appeared at


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