The Problem with the Puddles

( 7 )


Eight-and-a-half years ago, when their beautiful baby girl was born, Mr. and Mrs. Puddle couldn?t agree on what to name her. So Mrs. Puddle calls her daughter Emily and Mr. Puddle calls her Ferdinanda. And everyone else? They call her Baby.

Having parents who agree to disagree does mean twice as many presents on your birthday, but it can complicate your life! When Baby?s parents can?t agree on what kind of dog to get, they get two?both named Sally. And one summer day, when ...

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The Problem with the Puddles

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Eight-and-a-half years ago, when their beautiful baby girl was born, Mr. and Mrs. Puddle couldn’t agree on what to name her. So Mrs. Puddle calls her daughter Emily and Mr. Puddle calls her Ferdinanda. And everyone else? They call her Baby.

Having parents who agree to disagree does mean twice as many presents on your birthday, but it can complicate your life! When Baby’s parents can’t agree on what kind of dog to get, they get two—both named Sally. And one summer day, when rushing back to the city from their country house, the Puddles leave the Sallys behind. Will the Puddles agree to go back? What will become of the Sallys?

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

This capricious novel marks Feiffer's (President Pennybaker) move into middle-grade fiction, in a story about a family that, for some reason, attracts clouds ("It was as if the cloud suddenly forgot it was heading to a hurricane in Florida or an important blizzard in Canada"). Additionally, the Puddle parents disagree on everything: one of their children is called Baby because they couldn't choose a name. And since the couple squabbled over a breed, the Puddles have two dogs-both named Sally. Alternating between the perspectives of the two- and four-legged family members, the story reveals what happens when the Puddles inadvertently leave "the Sallys" behind at the end of a long vacation in the country. The kid-friendly humor ("Just like meat loaf is like a loaf of meat, a conundrum is like a drum of conun," one of the Sallys "explains," as the dogs consider what to do), the full cast of eccentric characters and Tusa's (Fred Stays with Me!) lively b&w spot art should readily win fans for the Puddle family. Ages 8-12. (Feb.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature - Myrna Dee Marler
This is a goofy novel, reminiscent of the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books of yesteryear. The Puddle family are a mixed up but happy bunch, agreeing to disagree and compromising on almost everything by doing it twice. For instance, they couldn't agree on a dog, so now they have two dogs, one big and one little, but both named Sally. Luckily, the Sallys are fond of each other and tolerant of the Puddles. The Puddles also could not agree on a name for their eight-year-old daughter, so each parent calls her by a different name, but most people know her as Baby. Luckily, they did agree on a name for younger brother Tom. The problems begin when the Puddles rush away from their country home and to the city, forgetting both Sallys. Of course, when they realize their mistake, Mr. and Mrs. Puddle cannot agree on whether to turn back or keep going. Fate decides for them. Before long, the Sallys and the Puddles are trying to find each other—along entirely different trails, both of which include strange turns and bring about eventually serendipitous events. This would be an excellent book for reading out loud to younger children, but it is also a fun escape for children who can read on their own. The cartoon illustrations only add to the humor. Eventually, the Puddles and the Sallys wind up together again, but it seems only natural that their adventures will continue in a series of future novels. Reviewer: Myrna Dee Marler
School Library Journal

Gr 3-4

The Puddles' problems all come from the parents' choice to agree to disagree, so decision-making rarely happens. Mom calls their eight-year-old Emily, while Dad calls her Ferdinanda, and everyone else calls her Baby, as written on her birth certificate. Two dogs, a Great Dane and a Chihuahua, both named Sally, are the cause of the book's main conflict when the Puddles accidentally leave the pups at their country house. The humor and short chapters will attract readers, and Tusa's lively, whimsical drawings add to the book's appeal. Mom and Dad Puddle are enjoyably frustrating. The Sallys offer dog's-eye views as they find their way home. From time to time, readers are invited to write or draw in the book, though there is a note on the title page that says, "(Pencil not required for reading, but may come in handy.) Warning: writing or drawing in library books is bad for their health." Kids will enjoy the story without adding their marks.-Laura Stanfield, Campbell County Public Library, Ft. Thomas, KY

Kirkus Reviews
Two children and their fractious parents head from their vacation home to the city and accidentally leave their two dogs behind. Before all are reunited, they meet several eccentric characters. Telling this slight story, which oozes metaliterary preciosity from every pore, takes nearly 200 pages, however, since the author relies on repetition to tell it-lots and tons of repeated repetition. Aiming for endearing quirkiness but achieving mostly contrivance, Feiffer gives readers little reason to care about her characters. Style, vocabulary and action veer from preschool level to middle-grade and back. Omitted from the jacket blurb is the fact that the plot turns on an adoption, which is trivialized and played for laughs and may well catch some readers off guard. Tusa's charming illustrations can't rescue this ill-conceived venture. (Fiction. 8-12)
From the Publisher
"The kid-friendly humor … the full cast of eccentric characters and
Tusa’s lively b&w spot art should readily win fans for the Puddle family.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442421011
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
  • Publication date: 6/7/2011
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 969,705
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 4.96 (w) x 7.62 (h) x 0.58 (d)

Meet the Author

Kate Feiffer is a writer, a filmmaker, and a mother. She is the author of the picture books No Go Sleep!; President Pennybaker; But I Wanted a Baby Brother!; The Wild, Wild Inside; Which Puppy?; My Mom Is Trying to Ruin My Life; and Double Pink; and of the middle-grade novels Signed by Zelda and The Problem with the Puddles. She lives with her family on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. Visit her at

Tricia Tusa has illustrated numerous acclaimed picture books, including In a Blue Room by Jim Averbeck, Mrs. Spitzer’s Garden by Edith Pattou, and the New York Times bestsellers The Sandwich Swap by Queen Rania of Jordan and Fred Stays with Me by Nancy Coffelt. She lives with her family in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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Read an Excerpt


Rain Falls on the Puddles


A cloud hovers over the Puddles.

Every day clouds zipped across the sky until they got to the Puddle property. No one knew why. All anyone knew was that when a cloud did get to the Puddles' house, it stopped. It took time out of its busy schedule to hang out for a while and practice its shape-making. It was as if the cloud suddenly forgot it was heading to a hurricane in Florida or an important blizzard in Canada. Perhaps it knew a family named Puddle lived below, or perhaps, as Baby Puddle believed, there was a big sign in the sky above their house that said STOP FOR PUDDLES.

On this particular morning on the last day of August, under a dog-shaped cloud, the Puddles dashed back and forth between their station wagon and the house. Baby Puddle loaded a backpack; a suitcase; three board games; her roller skates; her favorite stuffed dog, named Snore; and twelve cans of dog food into the car. Tom Puddle carried his backpack; a suitcase; his records; a record player; his oldest stuffed bear, named Bert; and a baseball bat out to the station wagon. Mr. Puddle returned to the house for "just one more thing" twenty-two times, and Mrs. Puddle crammed books into every empty space she could find.

At first the Puddles' two dogs traipsed behind, back and forth, from house to car to house to car to house to car to house to car. Then they wised up, sat down in the grass, and watched the people Puddles load up their Ford Country Squire.

The shiny red car with wood-paneled siding sunk down under the weight of so much stuff. Amazingly, the house didn't appear much emptier, even as the car filled all the way up. Boxes remained stacked on top of other boxes. Shopping bags, backpacks, and suitcases littered the hallway. The Puddles probably would have kept trying to jam things into the car, except that Mrs. Puddle looked at her watch and screeched, "Okay, guys, it's time to go. We're done. We're packed. Let's get into the car. Scoot."

They looked at the car and could barely see through the windows. Baby wondered how they'd possibly all fit in it. Mrs. Puddle didn't really care how; she'd do whatever it took. Tom hadn't seen his best friend for two months, so he planned on holding his breath for the entire ride if he had to do that to fit in. Baby wanted to make sure she fit in because she missed her city bedroom, but since she was skinny, she figured she could fit anywhere. Mr. Puddle thought that if he didn't fit, he'd stay in the country, but his seat was the only empty one. Mrs. Puddle didn't like to drive on narrow curvy roads. She refused to drive more than thirty-five miles per hour, so she couldn't drive on the highway, and she positively hated driving onto the ferry. So Mr. Puddle generally sat in the driver's seat, which happened to be the only seat without something already on it. He sighed a deep, sad, long groaning sigh and got into the car.

Before Baby got in, she looked up at the sky and saw the dog-shaped cloud. It lifted its back leg. Sure enough, rain fell on the Puddles. copyright © 2009 by Kate Feiffer

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 20, 2009

    The Problem with the Puddles is a MUST READ !!

    How can one go wrong with another delightful offering from our friend Kate Feiffer?? Talent is in her genes!! She really knows how to tantalize her reader and keep the story flowing right to the end. Her writing is reminiscent of Mr. Popper's Penguins - a classic if there ever was one!
    Kate, please keep going. We can't wait for what will come from your pen next!!

    Judy Babcock
    Orlando FL

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2013



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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2013


    Brings a bird two mice a squirrel and rabbit i hunted in next result

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  • Posted August 8, 2011


    Really good book .i like itu

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  • Posted March 11, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Jaglvr for

    Stuck in the country because the weather won't cooperate...

    Baby's mother is ready to return to the city. And her father would rather stay in the country for a few more days. Growing up, Baby's parents have always agreed to disagree. In fact, her mother wrote a book called Agreeing to Disagree that became an instant success. Their disagreeing goes back to when she was born. Her parents couldn't agree what to call her. One wanted to call her Emily, the other wanted Ferdinanda. A nurse simply wrote "Baby" on her form, and that was that.

    So, once the rain finally passes, the Puddles load up the car and head back to the city. A few hours into the eight-hour drive, the family realizes they've left the dogs back in the country! In a flurry of indecision, Mr. Puddles turns the car left, then right, trying to decide if they should go back for the dogs then or return at a later time. In the confusion, the car loses control and winds up off the road.

    In the meantime, the dogs are left back in the country and have their own discussion on what they should do. One is a Chihuahua, the other a Great Dane. And as with the rest of the craziness of the Puddle family, both dogs are named Sally. The dogs agree to head to the city to find the Puddles.

    While the Puddles are trying to return to the country, and the dogs are trying to get to the city, stories are told and secrets are revealed. One stranger stops to help the Puddles and another stranger stops to help the dogs. In a surprising twist, the author brings to two unlikely groups to a surprising end.

    For anyone that likes the quirkiness of Lemony Snicket's sense of humor, THE PROBLEM WITH THE PUDDLES is along the same vein. Fun, amusing, and downright humorous, the Puddles make any family seem normal!

    Readers younger than sixth grade will also be able to enjoy the story. There are entertaining illustrations throughout the story, and the chapters are kept to two or three pages for quick reading.

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    Posted June 9, 2011

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