The Book Corner: June 26, 2013

caines | 6/27/2013, 5:30 a.m.

Kids book tells the tale of Billie Holiday and her dogs Nobody listens to a thing you say. Grown-ups are always telling you to hush, be quiet, dont yell, and always use your inside voice (even outside). You know youre never supposed to keep secrets, but dont be a tattle-tale. Talk louder but stop shouting. Dont make so much noise. Speak up, the grown-ups say, but the only people who listen really listen to a kid like you are your pets. And in the new book Mister and Lady Day by Amy Novesky, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton, youll see that even famous people know wholl lend an ear. When Billie Holiday was a little girl, she dreamed of becoming a star. And thats just what happened: she grew up to be a famous jazz singer. People called her Lady Day and they loved to hear her voice. But even big-time stars get lonely sometimes, and they need someone to listen to their dreams and fears. Lady Day had her dogs. There were, in fact, lots of dogs in Lady Days life. There was a tiny poodle she carried in her pocket. She had a little spotted beagle, and two Chihuahuas that she fed with a baby bottle, a giant Great Dane, and a medium-sized terrier named Bessie Mae Moocho. There was a wandering mutt with a sad face who ran away but always found his way back home. But the dog that Lady Day loved the most was a boxer named Mister. Wherever Lady Day was, Mister was there, too. She knitted sweaters for him and bought him a mink coat. She cooked for him and even sang to him. When Lady Day performed at fancy clubs in Harlem, Mister was there and sometimes, he even had a steak! When the show was over, he guarded Lady Day in her dressing room. Then, one day when her career seemed to be at its best, Lady Day got into trouble. She had to leave home, and Mister couldnt come. She cried and cried, and promised him that shed come home as soon as possible. She wasnt sure if shed ever see him again. If she did, would he remember her? Would Mister be happy to see her when she returned? By giving young readers a sense of Billie Holidays deep love of dogs, Novesky makes this true story into one that kids especially kids with cherished pets can completely understand. Novesky lightly glosses over the kind of trouble that Lady Day found, but curious kids will find more of an explanation on the last page. On the flipside, littler children will love looking at the colorful collage-watercolors by Vanessa Brantley Newton. Overall, if youve got a young animal lover in your life, put this tale on the shelf and stick around. Mister and Lady Day is a book that 3-to-8-year-olds will want to listen to again and again. By Terri SchlichenmeyerMiami Times writer