Thursday, April 21, 2011
Fred Stays with Me! Written by Nancy Coffelt and illustrated by Tricia Tusa. Little, Brown, Hachette. 2007. $7.99 ages 3 and up
"At my mom's, Fred barks
at the poodle next door.
At my dad's, Fred steals
But Fred always has time
When parents divorce, children often end up spending time in two households. There are clothes, toys, books and rooms in each of those houses. But, what happens to any pets that might be a part of the child's life?
For the little girl in this lively and heartfelt story, Fred is the one thing that stays the same as she moves from house to house. Fred is her constant companion, always staying where she is staying. It seems to work for everyone. But Fred is also dealing with divorce and he has some issues.
At Mom's house, he heartily dislikes the poodle next door and his barking at her is incessant. At Dad's he takes a liking to the taste of socks. It isn't long until both parents are fed up with Fred and his antics. They
are threatening to ban him from their houses. It takes a strong and determined little girl to state the problem clearly:
"My mom is mad.
The neighbor's poodle barks at Fred all the time.
My dad is mad.
Fred has eaten all his socks.
"Fred can't stay with me!" says my mom.
"Fred can't stay with me!" says my dad.
"Fred doesn't stay with either of you.
Fred stays with ME!""
The mess requires a solution and everyone works together to find it.
The text is simply stated. The storytelling is glorious. Here is a family that is doing its best in an unhappy situation....they are making it as good as it can be, for the sake of their child. Tricia Tusa uses sepia tones for her wonderfully detailed and honest artwork. She shows how strong the emotional link between the girl and her beloved pet truly is, while making both whimsical and lovable.