Jeet and Fudge: Forever Friends

Paw Prints. (Jeet and Fudge: Bk. 1). Sept. 2022. 32p. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781518262968; pap. $5.99. ISBN 9781223183466.
K-Gr 2–The first in a new beginning reader series, this book introduces Jeet, a boy who has just moved to town with his adoptive parents. In a bid to cheer up her son, Bebbe takes him on a tour of the town, where a chance encounter with the local animal shelter grabs Jeet’s attention. Bebbe suggests that they volunteer at the shelter to care for the dogs that are waiting for their forever-homes. Jeet becomes especially taken with a lively pup named Fudge. He asks Bebbe and Bupa if they can give Fudge a home the same way they did for him. After a night of wishful dreaming, Jeet finds that his adventures are just beginning. Jeet’s family, who are first-generation Indian American and practicing Sikhs, are a welcome sight in the landscape of early readers. An afterword discusses the importance of animals, harmony, and community service within the religion, and this first entry is a promising start to the centrality these themes will have in future releases. Taken on its own terms, the narrative lacks dramatic urgency in making readers feel for Jeet’s initial plight, and the climax that finds his parents essentially solving the central conflict is a bit of a letdown. Still, the book’s bright tone and illustrations will appeal to young audiences.
VERDICT An optional purchase for libraries considering an addition to their collection of animal friendship stories or expansion to their diverse representation.

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