Hudson and the Bush Beast
by Sherri C. Southers and Robert W. Spruce
PageTurner Press and Media

"One of the squirrels has sent a message there is something hiding in the bushes."

Hudson, a large white dog, decides to deliver a treat to his best friend, Sooner. When squirrels in a nearby tree hear about "something hiding in the bushes," they become loud with concern. Irritated that the squirrels have disturbed his nap, Sooner begins to bark loudly. Just as Sooner's barking echoes in the neighborhood, his dad comes from the house, and Hudson arrives. Sooner's dad elicits Hudson's help in assessing the situation. As Sooner's dad tries to run the squirrels away, Hudson sees a shadowy figure in the bushes. The figure jumps out of the bushes, causing quite a scare. Lucy, a new resident in the neighborhood (and not the beast they expected), emerges from the bushes. Sooner welcomes Lucy and invites her to join them and share the treat Hudson has brought.

A suspenseful plot with plenty of action offers important and relevant topics such as sharing, friendship, and kindness to discuss with young readers. Children are encouraged to use their cognitive abilities in several plot twists. For example, parents may help young readers develop deduction skills by asking questions as they read. Questions such as, "What snack do you think Hudson brought to share with Sooner?" help children develop creative thinking, focus, and concentration as they guess the answer. Depending on the child's age, they might try to guess the identity of the shadowy figure in the bushes. The opportunity to explore the elements of friendship, as well as the concepts of meeting new people and sharing, are examined when the two dogs meet Lucy. The characters and plot appeal to children's sense of adventure and love of surprises. With this book, parents will likely find many ways to lead children in discussions that help develop important thinking skills.

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