Charley’s First Night – Perfect Picture Book Friday

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Cute alert! I am pretty sure that if you are an animal lover this will leave you with an “aw” feeling!

Charley’s First Night

Written by Amy Hest and Illustrated by Helen Oxenbury

Published by Candlewick Press, 2012,

Ages: 3-7

Themes: Puppies, first night at new home, rules, pets

Reviewed from library copy.

Opening (page 3)/Synopsis:

This home. That’s what I told Charley when we got home. And I showed him all the rooms including my room…. “This is home.” I said that a lot so Charley could know he was home. 

This is a sweet, warm story of a puppy’s first night with his new family. Henry Korn brought his new puppy, Charley, home wrapped in a blanket, that first, snowy night and showed Charley around. With some lovely repetitive text, Hest describes that Henry’s parents make it clear who will be responsible for feeding an walking the new pup, AND where Charley would be expected to sleep – in the kitchen, much to Henry’s disappointment.

“Charley wants to sleep in my room,” I said.

“Charley will be sleeping in the kitchen,” They said.

Henry makes Charley very comfortable under the kitchen table and heads up to his bedroom. The first yelps start around midnight, and let’s just say, you’ll need to read the story to find out where Charley sleeps that first night!

Why I like this Book:

From the front cover illustration I bet you have already all fallen in love with Henry and Charley, right? Helen Oxenbury does butter-wouldn’t-melt cute puppy to perfection in this story, and the text and adorable artwork have you wanting to give in to Charley from his entrance into the Korn household. Any child who has had, or begged for, a puppy, will jump gleefully over this sweet tale.

This story describes that innocent tender bond a child has with its first pet – that desire to make this the perfect home, especially on that first scary night, for the new pup. The language is simple and that and the story line will appeal to even very young children.


Preschool pet lessons.

Candlewick produce a Story Hour Kit for this book. 

Amy Hest’s Bio

Helen Oxenbury’s Bio.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book.  To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

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41 Responses to Charley’s First Night – Perfect Picture Book Friday

  1. Yeah, I’m sold on the softness of that cover!

  2. Oh, this is so sweet. It makes me want to go right out and buy a puppy with reckless abandon. 🙂

  3. Aw! Definitely aw! 🙂 This sounds like a lovely sweet book for any child longing for a puppy. And you are right – the illustrations are perfect 🙂 Thanks for sharing this one, Joanna!

  4. Joanna, I was so surprised to see that this was published in 2012. I glimpsed at the cover and it reminded me of the cover of a favorite childhood book — it has a softness about it. And, after raising four poodles over 30 yeas, I know where the dog ends up at night. Such a charming read. The cover really draws you in.

  5. Janet Smart says:

    I do love the cover, it is beautiful! And with Charley as the name, I have to love it. (Husband and son named Charley :o) )

  6. Laura Renauld says:

    Sounds like a sweet book. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Cathy Mealey says:


    I don’t think I’ve ever met a Candlewick book that I didn’t admire! Add this to my list.

  8. Carrie F says:

    This sounds so sweet, Joanna! You know, many times when I read a book I love, and I turn to the publication page, I find that it was published by Candlewick. This sounds like another great one.

  9. Amy D says:

    Sounds like such a sweet book, and yes, I am drawn in by the warmth of the illustrations. Great choice, Joanna!

  10. Oh yes, I definately have fallen in love with this one. Beautiful cover, and story. As a kid, I begged for a pet. Unfortunately never eventuated till I had my own home. There is nothing like your own pet, is there? Lovely Joanna!

  11. Aaron says:

    Loved this book! One of my favorites of the year 🙂

  12. sprite says:

    I read this in the bookstore last month when I was shopping for Christmas presents and just fell in love with the touching illustrations.

  13. Barbara says:

    I’m in love with this book already:))

  14. I am afraid that however fabulous this book is, I am unable to read it right now. I have determined that we cannot get a dog for another 18 months; a wonderful book with melt your heart illustrations cannot change my mind. So, in 18 months, I will sit down and enjoy it. 🙂

  15. Zoe says:

    I’m not a dog person at all, but I’m a huge Helen Oxenbury fan. One of my very favourite books by her is Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes – always brings a lump to my throat.

  16. Joanna says:

    Yes! I am a Helen Oxenbury and Amy Hest fan! Great combination.

  17. AWWWWWW… 😉 This is a wonderful book! 🙂

  18. Redpeffer says:

    What a lovely book. I’m an animal lover, and we’ve just got ourselves a kitten to add to our family (although to be honest, I’m hoping to get a dog in the future too!). Beautifully illustrated too, what a winning combination.

  19. Rhythm says:

    This looks like a great book! And one that I can relate to! From both sides of the issue — I was once that puppy finding myself in a strange place in a strange bed needing that comforting voice and touch. And we raise guide dog pups, so we have had new pups come in that I have had to help get thru that 1st night. I will have to check this book out! Thanks!

  20. Joanna says:

    Rhythm, this is one book I know you’ll love with all that experience!

  21. I love Amy Hest and Helen Oxenbury. I cannot resist a puppy or a kitty so I definitely know where the puppy slept and that I must have this treat from Candlewick. Two years ago my hubby had to sleep on the living room sofa since he’d managed to slip 10 dogs at once in the house (13 over the summer). They all insisted on sleeping in my bed, so he had to go until he started finding forever homes. Actually the dogs all slept far more soundly and didn’t snore.

  22. Sarah says:

    Looks like a sweet book. Candlewick PBs are awesome.

  23. Amy Hest is fantastic and it doesn’t get cuter than Helen Oxenbury for illustrations. I’ve been eyeing this one for a while – time to add to the library list!

  24. Oh Joanna, I loved this story too. I just wrote a quick-rapid-fire review of this one for one of my Monday reading posts – I’m strategically going through most of the nominees – immersing myself fully – before I dive right into the seven shortlisted titles. 🙂 I liked the part where they looked at the moonlight in the kitchen. So sweet.

    • Joanna says:

      The moonlight scene is scrummy, Myra. It was one of those books I wanted to hug afterwards and read all over again straight away.

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  26. You’re right! I fell in love the second I saw the cover (I added it to my list before I read a word of your review)…and then to read the opening. Oh my goodness! What a precious book!

    • Joanna says:

      I went to a book-release party at a Brooklyn bookstore in December for Amy Hest’s latest, THE READER, which is equally adorable – another kid+dog story.

  27. Bibliovore says:

    Helen Oxenbury is a perennial favorite among my storytime parents. Her pictures always look so cuddly.

  28. MotherReader says:

    Such a beautiful book! Glad you shared it – a good reminder for my upcoming puppy program!

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