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Please Write
Two anthropomorphized dogs with distinct personalities, Winslow and Zippy, navigate the trials of life and loss in their human family through hilarious and heartfelt letter exchanges with "Grandma Vivienne." As their owner's life undergoes upheaval, these four-legged companions provide comfort, humor, and unexpected wisdom, showcasing the transformative power of connection, patience, and unyielding love… from dogs.
This charming epistolary pup novel, Rousuck’s debut, celebrates dogs as family, with an emphasis on their love and idiosyncrasies. The story centers on Winslow, a distinguished purebred Boston terrier, who lives a good life in Baltimore with his owners, Pamela and Frank. Winslow’s organized life is upended when Frank unexpectedly brings home a rescue dog found under a pretzel truck. Winslow types letters to Grandma Vivienne seeking comfort as he endures chases, destroyed toys, and stolen food from this mixed terrier puppy, ultimately named Zippy.

It’s heartwarming and humorous as the “pedagogically exasperated” Winslow shares his dilemma in his own formal style, penning elegant missives that are a “model of decorum”—especially contrasted with Zippy’s occasional stabs at writing, which read like “BBATHHHHHHHHH!@#$”. Grandma Vivienne, a human friend of Pamela’s mother, initiates letters to Zippy to help her learn the ropes of her new life. In turn, Winslow strives to teach Zippy how to type letters to Grandma Vivienne, and the first attempts are hysterically funny yet touching. The story is set in 1990, so the pen pals use typewriters. Readers who smile at the thought of paws striking the keys of such old-school tech will be onboard from the first missive.

Vivienne’s guidance to Zippy includes ways to get into Winslow’s good graces such as: “Keep in mind that he is a very formal dog (after all, as a Boston Terrier, he always wears a tuxedo).” Each writer has their own unique fonts and distinctive personalities in the letters which include some of Vivienne’s drawings. We witness the taste tests of Vivienne’s treats and Pamela’s mother’s triumph of publishing a cookbook. Along the way we see Frank’s struggle to attend sponsor meetings and other marital catastrophes. Through the dog’s eyes and their letters, we see their world filled with joys and sorrows, and gain a better understanding of humans and dogs’ need for each other.

Takeaway: Sweet, hilarious novel of dogs as pen pals, told in their surprising letters.

Comparable Titles: Ann M. Martin’s A Dog’s Life, W. Bruce Cameron’s A Dog’s Purpose.

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

Midwest Book Review

Please Write is a novel that uses letters to build its characters. It opens with a letter by Winslow that tells his grandmother about the unwelcome addition of a puppy to the previously one-dog household of Winslow, wife Pamela, and husband Frank.  Grandma Vivienne responds with a letter back ... to the new family member she has named Zippy, for its proclivity for dashing around the house. As Winslow's life with Zippy evolves, readers receive a warm story that reaches out to embrace not only a lost dog's new home, but a family that needs him—whether they know it or not… J. Wynn Rousuck's unusual letter-writing approach to following this family's evolution lends a personal touch that pairs observation with insights on different forms of therapy and recovery. It gives a tone of revelation to family connections which come to life under different forms of examination. The result is a novel that will appeal to libraries and readers interested in stories that cultivate unusual approaches to family dynamics. Please Write represents a different spin on these relationships, moving through life changes with the call and response of animal and human observers who prove to be unexpected major players in a family's many important changes.”

—Midwest Book Review (Senior Reviewer Diane Donovan)