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By Tom Murdoch

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Beautifully illustrated, WHERE WILL YOU GO, RICKY JO?, a short (at just 15 pages) children’s book provides a fun—though confusing—story about an adventurous puppy.

In WHERE WILL YOU GO, RICKY JO?, a colorfully illustrated book for early readers, children can follow a Chihuahua puppy on his various adventures—from his mundane trip visiting the shoe store to the excitement of piloting an airplane, which is told through rhymed verse.

Initial confusion, however, gets the story off to a rough start. “Last night I was sleeping, / when my dream said to me, / ‘Ricky Jo, Ricky Jo, / there are places to see.’” This text is accompanied by an illustration showing Ricky Jo the Chihuahua standing up facing his animated toys—half of which have their mouths open as if they are talking to him.

The next page shows Ricky Jo (presumably the following morning) leaving the house for his adventure with the toys waving goodbye to him and asking to hear stories about his experiences. It’s unclear if the toys are in his dream talking, and if so, why they speak again when he’s awake. In short, if his toys can talk, why does he need the dream to receive their message? If he’s still dreaming, then why isn’t he shown in bed?

Once he leaves the house alone on his adventure (without any mention of parents), Ricky Jo explores routine areas, including a shoe store and a garden, and then suddenly ventures out to sea on a sailboat, goes mountain climbing, drives a firetruck, and flies a small airplane. From there, he returns to more everyday activities, such as riding a horse and visiting a farm. The last page shows Ricky Jo in bed asleep ready for his sweet dreams to appear. Once again, the story is unclear: Did he merely dream those adventures? If he did, then why doesn’t the book begin with him sleeping and end with him waking up? If he actually had those adventures, did they all take place in one day as indicated and how did he know how to do those things?

A clear description of what is real, imagined, and dreamed would help children better understand the story. In addition, adventures with gradually escalating excitement would create a more logical story structure. Although children will love the cute illustrations, they may have trouble with the story’s overall concept, logistics, and timeline.

WHERE WILL YOU GO, RICKY JO?, a beautifully illustrated book for early readers, is a fun (though sometimes confusing) story about an adventurous puppy, that attempts to inspire young boys and girls to use their imaginations about where they can go and what they can do.

~Carol Michaels for IndieReader

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