May is our month to recognize mothers.
What children’s book mothers go above and beyond?

Welcome to KidLit Gems!

Join us in a coffee-style chat about favorite children’s books and the elements that make them shine.

This month’s theme: KidLit Gems for Mom

Text © 2014, Kelly DiPucchio
Illustrations © 2014, Christian Robinson



Age Range:
4-8 years

Grade Level:

Antheneum Books
Young Readers

An imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division


Kirkus, Starred Review
Horn Book Magazine, Starred Review
Shelf Awareness, Starred Review
Publisher’s Weekly, Best Summer Books 2014

Mrs. Poodle admired her new puppies, Fi-Fi, Foo-Foo, Ooh-La-La, and Gaston. ~ Gaston

Gaston is a story about a delivery room mix-up that goes right. What’s not to love? It has humor. Fi-Fi? Foo-Foo? Ooh-La-La? I bet Kelly DiPucchio’s critique group spit cappuccino out of their noses when they first read these names out loud.

It has smarts. Alliterations please the ears: “There was much to see. Daffodils. Ducklings. Dogs.” Attention-getting cues engage: “Would you like to see them again?”

It has heart. Despite parenting alone and discovering a post-delivery mix-up, the canine supermoms, Mrs. Poodle and Mrs. Bulldog, raise well-adjusted,  thriving offspring. This is the perfect book for those who question their place in the world. While researching Gaston, I was surprised by nature vs. nurture debates.  My take: While every family situation is different, one element remains the same. Belonging isn’t about similarities. It’s about love.

Christian Robinson’s retro illustrations, including the Poodle and Bulldog family pictures; make me miss my sentimental supermom; and my fairly normal, but unique gold, orange, and green childhood.

~ Anna

From that day forward the families met in the park every afternoon to play. Rocky, Ricky, Bruno, and Antoinette taught the poodle puppies a thing or two about being tough.

Likewise, Fi-Fi, Foo-Foo, Ooh-La-La, and Gaston taught the bulldog puppies a thing or two about being tender. ~ Gaston

Gaston reminds me of Romeo & Juliet, two families from opposite sides of the tracks, circling their territory. This age appropriate picture book’s delightful alliteration, rhymes and Matisse-esque illustrations contribute to the age-old adage, “opposites attract”.  Children will delight as the “brutish or brawny” and the “proper or precious” unite. Three cheers for the mothers in this story that wisely, stand-by as Gaston and Antoinette explore their true identities. And unlike Romeo & Juliet, where the families are meddling, there is a happy ending to this love story.

~ Kristi


GEM Ruby

Watch for Kristi’s pick next!

We want to hear from you!
What children’s book moms excel in the motherhood department?

6 thoughts on “GASTON

  1. I’ve always been fascinated by switched-at-birth stories. They make me wonder what I would do… these pooches in GASTON certainly handled the impossible situation with more grace and wisdom than I could ever muster.
    In fact, when my boys were newborns in the hospital, I didn’t even allow the nurses to take them from my room unless my husband accompanied them!

  2. Here’s my favorite quote from the book: “That evening Antoinette tried to fit in with her new sisters, but she did not like anything proper or precious or pink.” It reminds me of a BBQ Jay and I once attended, in which the wives clustered in the kitchen to trade recipes and compare nail colors. I had absolutely nothing to contribute to the conversations, and I was SO uncomfortable. So I went outside and played bocci ball with the husbands instead.

    • Lou, I can envision you. like Antoinette, rumbling with Rocky, Ricky, Bruno, and Jay.
      I found it interesting that Gaston started out rough and tough and became more refined through the influence of his original family, and visa verse for Antoinette.
      There’s no question that we who write or illustrate picture books also evolve according to our influences–people, places, and things who/that touch a cord in our hearts and minds. That’s why I was so happy to find this conversation between Mac Barnett and Christian Robinson about Robinson’s influences. I loved his illustrations in GASTON, but now I’m an even bigger fan, knowing more about the funny, engaging, and humble person behind them. I also understand why Pixar, Google, and Writers House agent Steven Malk all saw something special in Robinson.
      If your time is limited, be sure to visit 55.12 for an amazing video Robinson did for Pop Magazine.

  3. Obviously, I’m a Kelly DiPucchio fan. I couldn’t find a video describing her process, but here’s a peek into one of her library visits. According to her website, 21 of her books have been published.

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