Happy Tails – Joy Metzer

24 April 2020
Happy Tails Book Cover Happy Tails
Joy Metzer
Belle Isle Books
20 February 2020

Jitterbug lives in a modest cabin in the Ozarks of Arkansas. The runt of a litter of dachshunds, she’s hopelessly at odds with her surroundings and can’t help but dream of making a name for herself in the big city. When opportunity knocks, Jitterbug escapes her pet carrier and lands herself in show business. Her impromptu adventure takes her across the country, acting on stage, on TV, and in commercials. But how fabulous is a life of work, work, work? And how long before she starts to miss home?

Happy Tails is a fabulous children’s book targeted primarily at the eight to twelve age group, although a younger audience would also enjoy it. The story is told in the third person through the eyes of a young female pup, Jitterbug, coming into the world and fascinated by everything she sees. Her knowledge develops as she grows older and meets more characters. The arrival of Jasper gives her the confidence to explore her home environment and see her home from a different exciting perspective. She gains the realisation that not everything in life is rosy.

Throughout the story, we get to follow her search to fulfil an underlining urge that she is more than just a country dog. She believes that she hasn’t reached her full potential and that she was meant for bigger and better things. This continuous underlying ambition drives her to seize on an opportunity and she makes a split-second decision that will change her life entirely. Joy Metzer takes us on this wonderful journey to fulfil Jitterbug’s adventure and we get to feel the emotional fall-out from her wanting more. Joy addresses the consequences of discovering that the grass isn’t always greener and whether the fame was worth the loss of the emotional security of her family. Not all answers or happiness lie at the end of the rainbow.

The novel had so many delicate levels in which to enjoy the story. It could be read for the pleasure of an adventure, particularly by the really young children, or at a deeper level that introduces more elaborate and sensitive emotional feelings. Feelings such as sadness, guilt, depression, grief, and bereavement are addressed in such a considerate yet explanative way that young children can understand the connection without being overwhelmed or frightened.

Joy Metzer’s creative ability to highlight such issues throughout the book, to help young children become aware and engage with such issues, is amazing. The value this could bring to some children going through traumas can help make some sense of things and provide a manuscript on how to cope. This realization that life deals out so many situations where we may at times feel a kaleidoscope of emotions from exhilaration and happiness to despair, darkness and overwhelming sadness are carefully handled. Providing the coping mechanisms needed to ride the emotional roller coaster of life; to have mastered this in such an engaging and wonderful story is an incredible achievement.

I would rate this book 5 stars and I would like to thank Joy Metzer for providing me with an ARC copy in return for an honest review.

Peter Donnelly

Founder of The Reading Desk, supporting readers, authors, publishers and book industry. Top Reviewer on Amazon, Goodreads, and NetGalley

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