When Natalie's parents hurriedly pack their bags to travel to China, leaving Natalie to stay with her grandma, Nat's throat feels "all chokey." Why do her parents have to leave her behind? Will they really come back? And, most importantly, do they still love her, or are they replacing her? She prays about it, but God's answer isn't immediately forthcoming.
Grandma, trying to soften the blow, does give Natalie a puppy, and just as her parents return home with her new baby brother, Nat reflects on her schoolwork to discover a deep truth. Nat's cat, Percy, doesn't like the new puppy and is missing. Natalie cries and tells her puppy:
"'Percy ran away, Puppy. He thinks I love you and not him. Only that's a lying thing. I love both of you!' I know this is for true. I know that adding Puppy made me love both of them more. 'Adding means more!' I tell Puppy. 'Not less!"
And just as Natalie's parents are adding another child to the family, Nat realizes they love her more - not less - than ever.
What I Like: Mackall does a great job of getting into the head of a 5 year old. And what child can't relate to worrying about how much their parents love them? Best of all, Natalie comes to the happy conclusion that she is loved in a natural, realistic way.
What I Dislike: Nothing. Although I should note a few things that might bother other parents. The point of view in this book is Natalie's - and the author does a good job of writing similar to how a typical 5 year old speaks. This lead to some minor grammatical errors (like "bestest"), but I found my kids actually found this funny and endearing. If it bothers you, it's easy to edit out as you read aloud.
In addition, there is a section of the book where Natalie talks about not enjoying math (which leads to her realizing "adding means more"), and another where Natalie visits a friend whose older sister is bratty and mean, even saying "I hate you!" and hitting (which makes Natalie wonder if she wants a sibling at all).
Overall Rating: Excellent.
Age Appeal: I'd say 5 - 8.
Publishing Info: Zonderkidz, 2009; ISBN: 978-0310715719; paperback, 96 pgs., $4.49
Buy Now at Amazon for $4.49 Or buy at ChristianBook.com for $4.49
Special Info: Check out our reviews of other books in the Natalie series. For a similar series with a slightly more mature heroine (who speaks with better grammar), see our own Lori Z. Scott's Meghan Rose series.