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Uplifting Picture Books That Don't Preach
McDuff Moves In
McDuff Moves In
by Rosemary Wells, illustrated by Susan Jeffers
In the back of a dogcatcher's truck sat a little white dog nobody wanted.
Thump! went the truck over a bump in the road. The little dog popped out into the night.
He tumbled onto the soft earth of a tulip bed. He did not know where he was.
--McDuff Moves In, by Rosemary Wells, illustrated by Susan Jeffers, p. 1-3.
In this touching book, a young West Highland terrier escapes a dogcatcher's truck, and wanders about in the dark, and later the rain, trying to find a home. He receives unfriendly noises from many houses, until finally he finds a home where the people and smells welcome him in. The couple takes him on a ride to return him, and then realize that they want to keep him.
Readers will feel for McDuff, hungry, out in the dark without a home, and feel the comfort, too, when he finally finds a home. The ending is all the more rewarding because of the moments of tension.
The text is beautifully written, with emotion, a strong viewpoint ("He needed something to eat. He needed a warm place to sleep. So he went looking.", and attention to detail, sounds, and smells. There is nice movement from scene to scene, and a dramatic flair showing us that all will be well ("Suddenly the wind came up. It blew the clouds and rain away. And the moon smiled full on the world.") Wells has created a well-crafted story.
Jeffers' illustrations work well with the text, the colors darker when McDuff is homeless, and bright and cheerful when the kind couple take him in. The paintings set the time around the 1930s; perceptive readers may point out the differences in cars, clothing, and home furnishings. Some readers may find this unsettling, others comforting.
An enjoyable, moving, and ultimately comforting story about finding a place in the world, and people to love you. Recommended.
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