Enzo the puppy makes the big journey from the farm to the city (bark twice for faster!) and learns to try new things as he makes friends with Denny and Zoe and ultimately calls this new (and rainy!) place home.
"Grown-up" books are not generally my thing, so while I am vaguely aware that there exists a book called Racing in the Rain and that it is popular, I have not actually read it myself. I did read the original Marley book, though, and while I loved that, I find the picture books...rather painfully atrocious.
So, I picked this one up with some trepidation. Fortunately, it is a very cute book all by itself. Stein's writing talents (with the help of Zoe B. Alley) seem to transfer just fine to picture books - not too wordy, showing as much as telling, plenty of dialogue. R. W. Alley's illustrations are a perfect complement, comfortable and expressive.
Anyone with a lively pup will recognize - and appreciate - the joie de vivre Enzo meets the world with, and any child who has lost something important, or who has been lost himself, will empathize when Enzo gets lost in the rain. Enzo's actions and thoughts are quite true-to-form for a young pup ("Now people are running everywhere - all sprinting after me! They like to run, too! This is fun!")
I understand that there is at least one more picture book in the works, and - with a sigh of relief - after reading this one I look forward to more. Hand it to any child, or even a teen or young adult who likes to run!
I covered some thoughts behind pets as gifts in a September post, so check back there for ideas.
Along the running theme, maybe a promise to start running together (er...when it's warmer?)
Some good jogging shoes if your giftee is already a runner?
If he is not, GeoPalz has fairly inexpensive pedometers in different styles
which can be set up so that your kids can earn prizes by exercising. Hey, that sounds like a whole lot more fun than feeding them cardboard for lunch!