The Horn Book Magazine
"The first title in this new beginning reader series introduces Sophie and Stanley, neighbors and best friends. Four cumulative chapters tackle the friendship’s first obstacle, Stanley’s new dog Misty. “I would like to play in Stanley’s yard,” says Sophie, “but I am afraid of his dog.” The pair plays in Sophie’s yard instead, temporarily solving the problem, until one day Stanley hurts his arm. Sophie’s class entrusts her to deliver their get-well card to him, which means getting past Misty. The illustrations, with their long lines and soft washes of color along with purposeful layouts and perspective shifts, reinforce the story line while also bringing emotion and resonance to the easy-reader first-person text. Stanley calls out encouragement from his window, and Sophie finally braves the trip into Misty’s territory for her friend. While the picture she drew on Stanley’s card of them playing together—with Misty—is not yet the reality, she has found some initial courage. This gentle story suggests the beginning of a supportive multi-volume friendship." ~ julie roach
CM Magazine ~ 4/4 stars review!
"Sophie and her best friend, Stanley, like to play in each other’s yards, but once Stanley gets a big dog named Misty, Sophie is afraid to go to his house. When Stanley hurts his arm and has to miss school, Sophie volunteers to bring him a get-well card made by her class. But Sophie isn’t sure she’s brave enough to pass Misty and reach Stanley’s front door.
Christine Dencer’s chapter book Misty is designed to show readers how friends can help each other tackle challenges too big to be handled alone. Sophie is afraid of her best friend Stanley’s dog. When she has to deliver a card to Stanley, she doesn’t know how to approach the big dog who jumps and barks. From his window, Stanley calls out instructions to Sophie, telling her how to address Misty and what commands to say to make the dog sit and stay still. Sophie does what her friend tells her and successfully passes Misty to bring Stanley his card.
This short chapter book provides a well-rounded depiction of a fairly common fear. Some readers will share Sophie’s fright of the big dog while others may relate more to Stanley who loves Misty and does not quite understand why Sophie is afraid. Having different reactions from the two main characters helps readers to see Sophie’s situation from multiple points of view. When Misty jumps and barks, for instance, Sophie is frightened, but Stanley only thinks Misty wants to play. Highlighting both interpretations allows readers to see that there are two sides to the story, even when it comes to ideas that some may find scary.
The ending to Misty is also nicely realistic. With guidance from Stanley, Sophie is able to get by Misty and deliver the card to her friend. She gets to see that Misty is a well-behaved dog who listens to commands, and, after making it to Stanley’s door, Sophie is relieved and proud of her accomplishment. However, her unease around the big dog is not suddenly erased after one good encounter. Sophie is still wary of Misty, and Stanley’s mother helps her to pass the dog on her way home. Sophie has achieved the first step in overcoming her fear, but it will take time for those frightening feelings to completely go away. This is an honest ending, and it serves the story well by not rushing what would, most likely, be a long process for anyone in Sophie’s position.
Misty is a sweet story perfect for those discovering chapter books. The short, single-scene chapters are easy to understand, with pages full of bright, colourful illustrations by Jessica Meserve. The characters of Sophie and Stanley will be relatable to many readers as will the challenges these friends face. Dencer’s own experiences with a black lab like Misty helped to inspire this story, and this personal inspiration adds heart to the tale. Misty is a great start to a promising new series about best friends conquering challenges together.