Meet Violet. She’s going on vacation to sunny Florida. She packed her bag very carefully.

Meet Pooch. He’s going on vacation to Grandpa’s snowy farm. Violet packed his bag very carefully, too.

After they both leave, disaster strikes! When their bags get mixed up, Violet thinks Pooch’s vacation will be miserable. But Pooch is having a grand old time, so all is very well!

Reading level: Ages 4 and up

Hardcover: 32 pages/ with jacket

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); First Edition edition (February 19, 2013)

ISBN-10: 0805091068

ISBN-13: 978-0805091069

Dimensions: 6 x 8 x 0.3 inches


In this small-enough-to-pack storybook, Violet and her dog, Pooch, take separate vacations: Violet to the beach, Pooch to Grandpa’s farm. In a scene children will recognize, they each prepare a bag. Violet packs her doll Molly and crayons; Pooch, his stuffed Fluffy Cat and red ball. Violet worries that Pooch will miss her, although when she arrives at the beach, bright gouache-and–fabric-collage illustrations show that she’s happily distracted, playing, walking and dining. With a turn of the page, the action comes to a halt. In a full-page spread, readers see Violet in bed pulling Fluffy Cat instead of Molly from her bag. The guilt sets in. Violet’s crisis is well-placed, and what follows is her rapid, emotional recap of her activities contrasted with what she imagines Pooch must have suffered, bored and lonely, concluding with, “While I was having FUN, Pooch was MISERABLE!” Mom suggests a phone call to Grandpa. At first nonplussed when Grandpa tells her that Pooch has had a busy day, too, she is reassured when she learns that Pooch is sleeping with Molly—and remembers that she has Fluffy Cat—making their connection tangible and secure. Cocca-Leffler knows children inside and out.

Pitch-perfect, well-paced and with a conclusion that will leave children deeply satisfied, this is a book to be shared before any kind of separation and just for fun. (Picture book. 4-8)


This book has a teensy-weensy trim size, which is fitting given the sweetness nestled inside. Violet is packing for vacation in Florida—adding her doll, crayons, and books to a bag—and also readying her dog, Pooch, for his stay at Grandpa’s farm. His identical green bag contains a leash, dog food, a red ball, and a stuffed toy, Fluffy Cat. Once Violet gets to Florida, she has a blast, until she goes to get her doll for bed and pulls out . . . a stuffed cat! With the wrong bag, she imagines the worst: a hungry, lonely, lost Pooch. Each of these pitiful visions appears as a vignette on a white background on one half of the page; on the

other half, in colorful full-bleed art, we see Violet now realizing she (selfishly) enjoyed herself while Pooch suffered. This setup cleverly switches when Violet calls her grandpa to check on Pooch—now she is the one sad and vignetted. It’s clear Pooch is living it up, full-bleed style. A cleverly conceived, charming little story for kids with beloved pooches of their own.

— Ann Kelley

Publisher’s Weekly:

A small girl's world is upended several times in this emotionally observant story from Cocca-Leffler (Princess Kim and Too Much Truth). First, Violet is upset that her beloved dog, Pooch, can't accompany the family to Florida on vacation, and will instead be staying at her grandfather's farm. Then, during the trip, Violet is horrified to discover that her special bag (with her dog, crayons, and books) has been swapped with Pooch's bag (containing his leash, food, ball, and stuffed "Fluffy Cat"). "This is horrible!" Violet wails. "While I was playing... Pooch was bored! While I was with my new friend... Pooch was lonely! While I was eating... Pooch was starving!" A quick call to Grandpa offers yet one more surprise: Pooch is doing fine, making a new friend, sleeping without Fluffy Cat's help, and enjoying some homemade beef stew. Cocca-Leffer's gouache cartoons, accented with fabric elements, capture Violet's emotional swings with empathy and humor; compassion and love for Pooch dominate Violet's thinking, and the story celebrates those qualities while offering a gentle reality check. Ages 4–7. (Feb.)


Vacation can be bittersweet if you’re leaving a friend behind, and so it is for young Violet, whose beloved dog Pooch is staying with Violet’s grandparents while she and her parents go to Florida. After an enjoyable day at the beach, Violet realizes with horror at nightfall that the special bag she packed to go with Pooch instead came with her to Florida; when she calls her grandfather in guilt and desperation, she’s relieved (and a little wistful) to find out that Pooch has been having a grand time without her on his own vacation. Cocca-Leffler hits squarely on the youthful attachment to pets, with its blend of responsibility, projection, and love, and the anxiety of separation here; the narrative is carefully structured, with parallels between kid and dog, neatly repetitive outlines of Violet’s activities, and back-and-forth dialogue adding rhythm to the story. Bright touches of patterned fabric collage add further liveliness to the light-filled gouache scenes, with compact split-screen vignettes allowing viewers to see Pooch’s and Violet’s vacations simultaneously; while faces are minimally suggested, Violet’s a dark-haired charmer who could credibly belong to various ethnic backgrounds. This will be a usefully light-hearted way to approach separation anxiety of all kinds, and the book’s small size makes it perfect to tuck into a bag for reassuring worried young travelers who miss their own furry friends. DS