Joe Blevins’ children’s book, DOUBLE TROUBLE DOUBLE TROUBLE, is centered around two country dogs, Charley and Mabel, and their relationship with other animals. Beginning with the hint that Charley is sometimes bad, the book offers read along scenarios of the different activities of Charley and Mabel that end with the question: Was that good or bad? As parents read the book to their children and the viewpoints of the other animals are presented, children are given the opportunity to discuss the activities of Charley and Mabel and decide for themselves. This helps young children build thinking and reasoning skills.
Along with the benefits of answering these questions, the book also offers a wonderful catalyst for family discussions about the difference between good and bad behavior and the ways in which one’s behavior might affect others. The plot and illustrations are easy to follow, and children will have no problem understanding the basic theme of the book. The variety of animals and the setting can be used to teach them about environment and life on a farm.
Blevins does an excellent job illustrating DOUBLE TROUBLE DOUBLE TROUBLE with realistic illustrations that children can readily understand and that correlate with the plot. Written in large, bold face text and inserted under the illustration it accompanies, this book can be easily used for early readers. And because Charley and Mabel are illustrated with revealing expressions, discussions concerning concepts such as happiness and curiosity can be tackled in children old enough to begin learning them.
While DOUBLE TROUBLE DOUBLE TROUBLE sufficiently captures the imagination of children and offers many teaching opportunities, the plot could be more captivating. While the reader is told some things that Charley and Mabel do and is asked to comment on them, he or she doesn’t follow them as they commit bad deeds. As the reader follows the story, it feels disjointed at times, as if separate scenes are put together without the cohesiveness of a true plot. However, there is much to like about the book and learn from it, especially in very young readers. Older children, however, may need a little more storytelling to hold their interest.
~Kat Kennedy for IndieReader