- written by Stephanie Calmenson
- illustrated by Thomas F. Yezerski
- Clarion Books, 2001
- 32 pp., full-color illustrations
- ages 4-7
- ISBN-10: 0-618-01139-0
- ISBN-13: 978-0-618-01139-1
Puppy has a new girl, and he wants to show her how much he deserves all the good things puppies get. He makes mistakes though, and when he gets in big trouble, he runs away. When his girl finds him, Puppy learns he doesn’t have to be perfect to be loved.
This book is perfect for little kids — or even big kids — who need to know they’re loved even though they make mistakes. The writing is short and simple, but it’s so funny and full of meaning. It was my first attempt at illustrating a book for young children, and I really enjoyed it. Stephanie’s writing helped me imagine the bouncy, hopeful, slightly mischievous puppy. I got the chance to lighten up my style and have some fun.
I felt like the puppy in the story when I started this project. Stephanie Calmenson really wanted Clarion Books to let me illustrate her story, and I wanted to prove her right. I always admired Clarion, so I also wanted my first book with them to be perfect. As always, I made some mistakes along the way, just like the puppy, but I think we came up with a good book in the end. Both Stephanie Calmenson and I had real dogs in mind while we worked on Perfect Puppy. Stephanie’s dog Rosie is already the subject of another of her books, Rosie: A Visiting Dog’s Story. Rosie is trained to cheer up sad and sick people. My parents’ dog Mickey doesn’t have such an important job, unless stealing toast and socks is an important job. He was the dog I was thinking about. It wasn’t until after I started working on the book that Stephanie and I realized that Rosie and Mickey are both Tibetan Terriers! What a coincidence! I also dedicated the book to my family’s first dog Tiffy, because a lot of her personality is in the Perfect Puppy, too.