July 18, 2019

Princess Puffybottom...and Darryl

Written by Susin Nielsen
Illustrated by Olivia Chin Mueller
Tundra Books
978-1-101-91925-5
32 pp.
Ages 4-7
February 2019 

Oh, she is truly royalty! Princess Puffybottom rules over her household, getting her subjects to cater to her needs and whims. In return, she might allow them to pet her and play with her. Then Darryl arrives and everything changes.
From Princess Puffybottom...and Darryl by Susin Nielsen, illus. by Olivia Chin Mueller
When her humans bring home the eager puppy, Princess Puffybottom sees only a horrible, disgusting animal but she is convinced that she just needs to wait for him to be banished. When her subjects leave with Darryl and are gone a long time, she is certain that they have taken him to a faraway kingdom and she is ready to celebrate.
From Princess Puffybottom...and Darryl by Susin Nielsen, illus. by Olivia Chin Mueller
But then the two return with Darryl sporting an Elizabethan collar. Princess Puffybottom has no choice but to work towards getting Darryl ejected. But her efforts are futile and, at a party, Princess Puffybottom realizes that she is no longer adored as she once was. Only Darryl recognizes her sadness and gives her the attention she desires. Finally the cat appreciates his regard and efforts as valuable. It's a good thing because there's a new addition coming and it's sure to be another surprise for Princess Puffybottom.

From Princess Puffybottom...and Darryl by Susin Nielsen, illus. by Olivia Chin Mueller
Most readers will recognize Susin Nielsen's name from her authorship of middle-grade and young adult novels like Word Nerd (Tundra, 2008), We Are All Made of Molecules (Tundra, 2015) and Optimists Die First (Tundra, 2017). She tells important stories about real kids but writes them with humour to lighten the angst. With Princess Puffybottom...and Darryl, Susan Nielsen brings that same humour but in a story with an animal perspective though the circumstances could be human. No one likes to be neglected or usurped by another, whether it be a sibling, a friend, a competitor or another pet. But, for a cat, this is especially heinous since many of them look down on everyone. (Winston Churchill is quoted as saying, in justification for his fondness for pigs, that dogs look up at humans, cats look down on us, and pigs would look you straight in the eye.) Having to share her humans with a lowly canine may not be acceptable to Princess Puffybottom but at least she is able to recognize that she doesn't have to compete with Darryl; instead, she can let him worship her.  Darryl gets a friend, Princess Puffybottom gets a devotee, and the household is copacetic once again.

Compliments of  Olivia Chin Mueller's digital illustrations, Princess Puffybottom and Darryl are adorable rivals for their peoples' affections. They are soft and cuddly though Princess Puffybottom's air of superiority gives her an aloof appearance whereas frisky Darryl is completely unfettered in his liveliness. Together they become the furry symbol of acceptance and companionship, even if Princess Puffybottom still believes she rules all.
From Princess Puffybottom...and Darryl by Susin Nielsen, illus. by Olivia Chin Mueller

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