Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Review: Finding Susie

Summary: A “perfect pet” story from Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

Sandra is growing up on a desert ranch surrounded by animals, but she wants one to have her very own pet. A tortoise isn’t really friendly, a little rabbit is too fearful, and a young coyote howls to rejoin his pack. A bobcat almost fits the bill, but soon grows too big and fierce to be a housecat. Sandra’s parents let her learn for herself that these animals are best suited to the wild, though it is often hard to let them go. Finally, a smiley little stray dog finds Sandra. Sandra names the dog Susie, and the two become wonderful friends. -- Knopf

FINDING SUSIE written by Sandra Day O'Connor and illustrated by Tom Pohrt is a beautiful picture book for youngsters. In case you are wondering: yes, it is that Sandra Day O'Connor, the former Supreme Court Justice. I was so excited to see that an amazing female role model from my childhood has turned her skills into writing a children's book that my kids can appreciate.

I read this book to my son (who is almost 5 years old) and he enjoyed it. He understood the entire story, but he did become a bit antsy towards the end of the book. Don't get me wrong, he was able to sit for the entire story; however, FINDING SUSIE is longer than our usual night-time reads. The book is probably geared for kindergartners and up based on his reaction. Although there are definitely preschoolers who will love this book (the recommended age range is 4-8.)

FINDING SUSIE tells the story of Justice O'Connor's childhood adventures with the animals that lived around her family's ranch. She absolutely adored animals of all types and kept bringing home wild animals with the hopes that she could turn them into her pet. Some examples of the animals that found their way into Sandra's heart included a tortoise, a rabbit, a coyote and a bobcat. She finally ended up with a stray dog which she named Susie.

In addition to the story, I thought the illustrations in this book were just wonderful. Mr. Pohrt's pictures have appeared on the cover of The New Yorker in addition to many other picture books. The details on both the animals as well as the people's faces are exquisite; and I found the illustrations to be a perfect compliment to the text.

I also really liked the messages in this book. I especially appreciated the overall idea that some animals are not meant to be pets -- they are better suited to living in the wild. There is also the message that it's not always easy to do the right thing. Sandra learned this lesson the hard way when she had to keep giving up the animals that she loved because they weren't happy being pets. I also liked that Sandra was persistent and never gave up throughout this story. She knew she wanted a pet more than anything and she kept on trying over and over again. I have a feeling that these same personality traits that Justice O'Connor had as a child served her well in her adult life.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me this gorgeous picture book.


bermudaonion said...

What a great story! I want the little Susie that's on the cover, too.

Pam said...

Wow! I had no idea SDO was publishing kids' books, now. Thanks for pointing me in that direction.

Anna said...

Sounds like a cute story. I'll have to keep it in mind for my nephew when he's a little older. I didn't know she was an author!

Diary of an Eccentric

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) said...

Very cute! Hopefully your son won't take to bringing home bobcats and other unsuitable pets.

Karlie said...

I had no idea that she was writing childrens' books. I dressed up as Sandra Day O'Connor in elementary school for a class project!

Care said...

I have a niece named after Sandra Day O'Connor's mother (my sil liked the name) so I think I'll get this for her. She just turned 3 yo. Thanks!

Beth F said...

Sounds wonderful and I'd no idea SDO wrote children's books.

Anonymous said...

Sounds cute. Might be a good one for my niece.

Serena said...

wow, I'm pleasantly surprised that the author of this kid's book is a former Supreme Court Justice...don't they normally go on to write autobiographies of themselves or discuss law in nonfiction books?

I'm glad that she branched out into another genre.