Last year I reviewed Ree Drummond's Charlie the Ranch Dog. The sequel, Charlie and the Christmas Kitty, is very similar. In fact, the "Christmas" part of the story is almost incidental. Charlie and the Christmas Kitty is about the reaction of Charlie, a somewhat lazy and set in his ways ranch dog (not that he sees himself that way) to the arrival of a new kitten. Primarily, it's a character study of Charlie, a beguiling basset hound with a fondness for naps.
Charlie is fun. Astute young readers will see the disconnect between Charlie's words ("I'm such a hard worker, some people even call me King of the Ranch") and his actions (heading over for a snooze, while the younger ranch dog actually does help with the Christmas decorations). Kids are also likely to be amused by the fact that Charlie doesn't even realize that the kitten is a kitten at first, thinking that the tiny, ribbon-bedecked bundle is a rabbit. I liked his deadpan response on this realization (accompanied by sad basset eyes):
"I have to say, I really wasn't expecting this development."
Drummond maintains a light touch at the end of the book, avoiding sentimentality. Even as Charlie is coming to, grudgingly, accept the kitty, a new, wriggly present arrives with his name on it.
deGroat's illustrations are warm and detailed. Charlie and the kitten are rendered with particular affection, while the human characters remain, as they should, in the background. The early scenes of Charlie and the Christmas Kitty do convey a Christmas feel, with ornaments and stockings and brightly wrapped packages. A number of the later scenes take place outside, on the porch of the snowy ranch.
2 1/2 year old Baby Bookworm gave this book her top endorsement, immediately demanding "Read it again!" after our first read. Fans of Charlie and the Ranch Dog will be pleased with Charlie's re-appearance in Charlie and the Christmas Kitty. While the story itself is only incidentally about the holidays (the kitten is a Christmas gift), the cozy feel of the book, and the illustrations, suit the tone of the season nicely.
Publisher: HarperCollins (@HarperChildrens)
Publication Date: September 25, 2012
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
© 2012 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).