Dean Koontz might not be the first name that comes to mind when you think of children’s authors. But the man known for his adult thrillers has written three picture books about a dog named Trixie, based on his family’s beloved golden retriever. A lite version (or preview) of today’s title is available for free.
K-Gr 2-The life of a dog isn’t for everyone; some of us are better suited to be caretakers serving the needs of canines. Trixie, author Koontz’s golden retriever, narrates this story (Putnam, 2009), offering readers a dog’s-rule view of the world. While children are likely to find the text a bit awkward to read (“Bliss to you. Bliss to you!/Is me, who is dog,/Trixie Koontz, happy dog.”), Cleland’s watercolor illustrations are lively and captivating.
A professional narration would have improved the story’s delivery, which is somewhat uneven in pacing and tone. (Viewers can also opt to read the book on their own, tapping on a word to hear it voiced.) Delightful music and background sounds (a banjo tune, chirping birds, splashing water) have been added, including some sounds that are triggered by touching the screen.
What children will enjoy about this app is the opportunity to customize it. They may record their own voice or another person’s reading the story, or insert their pet’s name in place of Jinx’s, Trixie’s canine friend. Viewers also have an art box at their disposal and can color the images, then share them via email.
“Extras” include a video of Koontz talking about his pet, a “photo gallery” of the real Trixie, a tutorial on navigating the app and its features, and information on the non-profit Canine Companions for Independence, which includes requests for donations. Overall, an app that will be appreciated for it’s customization rather than its story or extras.—Casey LaPlante, East Windsor Middle School, Broad Brook, CT