Rosie is a sweet-faced Jack Russell terrier who lives with her human friend, George. She and George have a quiet life together, and Rosie feels lonely as the two go through their daily routine. George decides to shake things up a bit, and brings Rosie to a dog park, but Rosie’s a bit nervous, overwhelmed by all the new, strange dogs there. When a big St. Bernard named Maurice lumbers over to her with his stuffed bunny, Rosie is immediately on guard. How can Rosie make some new friends?
Kate DiCamillo has the gift of words, and Harry Bliss creates hilarious and poignant moments in this comic panel-styled story about making new friends. Rosie looks into her water bowl and sees her reflection, which she thinks is another dog; when she barks at the dog, she feels lonely, because “the other dog never answers”. Later, on her walk, she barks at a dog-shaped cloud; its lack of response makes Rosie “feel lonely in an empty-silver-bowl sort of way”. It’s just wonderful writing that speaks directly to the reader, eliciting that same disappointed, lonely feeling that Rosie experiences. And then, there are moments when the art and words come together to produce moments of sheer delight, as when Maurice introduces himself to Rosie: “‘My name is, uh, Maurice,’ says a very big dog. ‘And I have a bunny.'” The words are adorable, and the size difference between Maurice and Rosie make the full-page panel come to life.
The story addresses social skills when new friends come together: Rosie is lonely, but overwhelmed when thrust into a new social setting; Maurice needs a little bit of help with his social skills (and understanding his size in relation to other dogs), and Fifi, another small dog with a sparkly collar, is excitable and jumpy, which confuses Rosie and Maurice, who don’t immediately know how to react to her. With a little help from the grownups, and some get-to-know-you time between the pups, the day at the park ends with a group of new friends who look forward to playing together again.
This is a great back to school story for kids, especially for new Pre-K or Kindergarteners, who are starting school for the first time. I love this sweet story, and so will your readers (and you). Know a kid who’s starting school, or starting a new school, soon? Cuddle up with them and let them know that if Rosie can do it, so can they. Good Rosie! has starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, School Library Journal, and Kirkus.