“Gaston” by Kelly DiPucchio
Even though Gaston doesn’t look like his sister poodles–Fi-Fi, Foo-Foo, and Ooh-La-La–he fits right in with them. He’s taken to heart all of the lessons that Mrs. Poodle has taught him alongside his sisters. He sips and doesn’t slobber. He yips and doesn’t yap. And he walks with grace and doesn’t race.
On their first trip to the park in the spring, the poodle family happens upon a family of bulldogs: Rocky, Ricky, Bruno, and Antoinette.
When the obvious “switched at birth” scenario presents itself, the mothers decide to let Gaston and Antoinette decide what to do. The puppies follow the inevitable desire to be with their own kind, but will they be happy?
And this is how the the nature vs. nurture debate is introduced to preschoolers.
Seriously, though, it is a very sweet book about having a sense of belonging and loving those who raised you even if they’re not blood relatives. It teaches the valuable lesson that even if something doesn’t look right, it might feel right.
The illustrator is Christian Robinson, and he delivers a colorful style that young people will admire. (Not too fancy, but he stays in the lines.) DiPucchio, meanwhile, delivers a story with just the right cadence and a touch of humor.
Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Christian Robinson (Atheneum Books for Young Readers | ISBN 9781442451025 | June 3, 2014)