Touched with love and music, this debut by Isley-Farmer follows Boomer, a friendly Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy, in his quest to “yip” as proudly as his sisters do. Boomer befriends Chloe, the nine-year-old granddaughter of his caretaker, Nana Weathers. Boomer and Nana are able to communicate with each other thanks to Nana’s magic ring, but Boomer and Chloe, who struggles with a stutter, bond simply through their similarities, helping each other find their confidence -- and eventually their voices. Taylor Bills’ black and white illustrations mark the beginning of every chapter and warmly spotlight the sentimental aspects of the characters, such as Boomer’s expressive, soulful eyes. Budding readers will easily connect with this story of growth and self discovery, set against a backdrop of human and animal attachment.
While younger fans will likely be familiar with talking animals, the rules of Boomer’s world aren’t clearly established. Boomer possesses vocabulary enough to understand what humans are saying, but he doesn’t know what the sun is. Nana’s ring, meanwhile, has unexplained powers to do apparently just about anything. Dialogue drives the somewhat stretched out narrative, often in place of action, description, or momentum, contributing to the feeling of uncertainty about Boomer and his world. Readers learn more about what Boomer hears people saying than what he sees or what the characters actually do.
Finding My Yip is strongest when illuminating the relationship between Boomer and Chloe. Despite appearing a touch more mature in the illustrations, Chloe is a typical nine-year-old struggling to make friends, build self-confidence, and find her voice. With or without Nana’s magic ring, the camaraderie between Chloe and Boomer touchingly demonstrates the power of reciprocal love. Whether or not its young readers have enjoyed the experience of bonding with an animal, this charming story will appeal to those who know what it’s like to need a friend, whatever species that friend might be.
Takeaway: Dog-lovers and shy kids alike will enjoy this uplifting story about friendship and courage.
Great for fans of: Laura James’s The Adventures of Pug series, Ann Cameron’s Spunky Tells All
Production grades Cover: B Design and typography: A Illustrations: A- Editing: B Marketing copy: A