Pip & Pup – Perfect Picture Book Friday

I don’t often review wordless picture books, but I was smitten by this book:

Illustrations ⓒEugene Yelchin

Why? The huge humor and heart factor.

Those who are “only” writers (like me) must infuse the text with heart, and then leave it to illustrators to fulfill what is promised in the text by adding their own form of magic.

Author-illustrators who choose not to use words, must show us irony or straight humor visually, and then pull on our heart strings via the situation and characters’ expressions, including body language.

In PIP & PUP, we are introduced to the pair on the cover, a plump little chick and an adorable puppy.

They’re both new to this fun and sometimes scary world.

In the front end papers, we watch Pip hatch. Those eyes taking in everything around her.

Illustrations ⓒEugene Yelchin

Once out of her shell, that curious Pip explores her world. She searches the farm. But for what?

Illustrations ⓒEugene Yelchin

Someone else who might be a playmate. I love these facing pages, and the parallel between what Pip does and what she sees.

Illustrations ⓒEugene Yelchin

Pip spies the unsuspecting Pup asleep under the tractor. But she won’t be asleep for long. Pip approaches and pecks at her nose. Now, if Pip had pecked the beak of another chick, this may have been an appropriate way to greet a new friend. However, Pip gets a different response: Pup immediately gives chase, startling Pip who flees back through the barnyard and to the safety of her abandoned shell.

We’ve all been chased by something big and scary in this world, and we’ve all tried to hide from it, yes? But then we have to climb back out of our shells to face the world again.

On the farm, the sky grows dark. Lightning sizzles, and it begins to rain. Pip, still inside her bottom shell, pulls the top of her shell down like a hat to shield herself from the rain. She paddles her shell like a boat through puddles until she sees Pup cowering under the tractor. Those sad puppy eyes, drooping ears, and curled tail all indicate the puppy’s fear. Lighting sizzles again, and Pup covers her ears and then her eyes with her paws. Pip watches Pup, then climbs out of her shell.

Pip places her bottom eggshell on top of Pup’s head, a gesture so loving and ironically inadequate it fills my heart to overflowing. That eggshell cannot shield Pup from her real fear, let alone the pouring rain.

Illustrations ⓒEugene Yelchin

So Pip entices Pup to forget her fear by playing—until the sun shines again. The distraction works! But Pup in her joy accidentally rolls over Pip’s shells, crushing them to bits.

Pup’s expression of remorse as she looks at what she has done, and Pip’s downcast expression and bowed head, lead Pup to make a similar gesture of friendship and love that ironically just misses the mark.

Illustrations ⓒEugene Yelchin

Just how is Pip going to play with that ball? We LOVE Pup’s effort to repair the friendship. And we know that the two will remain friends, accepting and adapting to their differences, thoughtfully repairing the missteps or misunderstandings that happen in any friendship.

So there you have it, humor with heart. Easy right? In the resources below, I’ve paired PIP & PUP with TREVOR by Jim Averbeck, another book that features a phenomenal mix of humor and heart, although it achieves this feat through a brilliant pairing of text and illustrations.

A note about trim size: PIP & PUP has a much wider width than height, perfect for showing events that are close to the ground (a true child’s perspective) and that take up long horizontal space, like the barnyard chase and the spread that features a series of vignettes showing the pair at play. It makes the world of this book feel much bigger than its small characters. An inspired choice!


Prepare blown eggshell decorations, using this Youtube video.And then harden them with modpodge before decorating with sharpies or paint.

Discuss what it means to be a friend, using this  guide

Pair this book with TREVOR by Jim Averbeck. Teacher’s guide: Social and emotional learning.

Title: Pip & Pup

Author/Illustrator: Eugene Yelchin

Publisher: Henry Holt, 2018

Ages: preschool-1st grade

Themes: Friendship, apologies, empathy

You can find a wealth of perfect picture book recommendations at Susanna Hill’s blog.

14 thoughts on “Pip & Pup – Perfect Picture Book Friday

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      It’s such a sweet gesture, a kind of thing a kid does to make someone, possibly a parent, feel better. And the problem might be far bigger than the gesture, but the gesture itself makes all the difference. A perfect moment.

  1. Sarah Tobias says:

    I read this book not too long ago. I just love the illustrations. Pip and Pup are adorable and have a lovely retro feel.

    I have often struggled with wordless picture books because they are challenging to share in storytimes and programs. Then I heard Matthew Cordell make a little side comment about working on ways to bring wordless books into the classroom setting. I can’t find anything on the Internet, but I would like to build reasons for “reading” wordless books. Certain, they are wonderful for young children to create their own words and develop their ability to “read” pictures. Pip and Pup would be great for that.

    For older kids, it could be good for them to practice writing stories to go with illustrations.

    Anyway, Pip and Pup take me back to my favorite childhood story, The Pokey Little Puppy. Thanks for sharing.

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      I highly recommend READING PICTURE BOOKS WITH CHILDREN. U found it very helpful in providing suggestions for engaging kids with the illustrations. It slowed me down and gave me lots of ideas for discussion. It involves asking questions about each spread, from a straightforward “what is happening in this picture,” to “how do you think Pip/Pup is feeling right now?” And it all starts with the end papers and front matter before the “story” begins, because illustrators often give critical details that help us interpret the story. Have you seen this book?

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      I was first introduced to Yelchin when I read his MG BREAKING STALIN’S NOSE, a really great book about that time period. And then I found out he was an illustrator, too. And he does such lovely, expressive work, a critical skill for evoking emotion, I think.

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      It’s such a gift to be able to tell a story visually like this. I always think in words first and then how they translate into pictures. I think illustrators begin with images and then translate the image into words.

  2. Ste J says:

    I like the change in dimensions of the book, as you say its good for a child to see things from their perspective, low to the ground. This is added to the list.

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