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Chandra Ippen
Argo and Me

Picture Book; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)

Argo and Me is a heartwarming story about a puppy and a child who have each had multiple homes and tough times. Together, with the help of family, they figure out what scares them, they learn that they are lovable, and they find safety and home. Families and therapists will find that the book helps start important conversations about times when children may have felt scared, how this may affect them, and ways that grown-ups can help them feel safe and loved. The book may be especially helpful for children who have experienced very stressful or traumatic experiences, those who may have been involved with the foster care system whether they currently reside with their birth parents or foster parents, and those who have been adopted.
In Ippen’s sweet, compassionate picture book for children, a little boy learns the meaning of love, trust, and family alongside his rescue dog, Argo. Coming from an animal shelter, Argo has passed through many homes— and some were cruel or neglectful, which makes it hard for the animal to trust people and also causes him to be afraid of thunderstorms and boots. As a foster child with a heartbreaking history of his own, the young narrator relates to Argo’s plight. “Some people I lived with before had big problems and didn’t always take good care of me,” he says. “Sometimes I worried about new people and new places. Sometimes I felt scared and didn’t know why.”

Ultimately Argo and the boy both come to understand that they are safe and loved, even when times are tough. Perhaps the most valuable aspect of this lesson involves the healthy expression of anger. When Argo chews up one of the boy’s favorite toys, the boy initially gets upset and yells at his pet – but then he realizes Argo looks scared as a result of his outburst. “I’m mad, but I still love you,” he tells the dog. The boy’s empathy and self-awareness will help children and their parents consider their own reactions when they get mad, as well as how to handle strong emotions in the future.

Erich Ippen Jr.’s colorful, soft-edged illustrations give depth to the story by offering hints to the characters’ pasts. Argo, for instance, was born in an alley and spent part of his life chained up in a barren backyard, and the boy is shown sitting alone in a crib while two adults argue in the next room. These emotional illustrations will give kids plenty of chances to ask questions and reflect on their own experiences and fears. Ultimately this touching tale speaks volumes about overcoming trauma and the value of family—in all its many forms.

Takeaway: A little boy learns the meaning of love, trust, and family alongside his rescue dog, Argo.

Great for fans of: Simon James’s Mr. Scruff, Lisa Papp’s Madeline Finn and the Shelter Dog.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A