HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Please Save Jessie: Jessie #2
Author: Christine Pullein-Thompson
Publisher: Willowisp Press, republished in 1989
Language level: 3
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 8-12
Rating: **** 4 stars (GOOD)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Pullein-Thompson, Christine. Please Save Jessie: Jessie #2 (originally published in 1987 by Pages Publishing Group; republished in 1989 by Willowisp Press Inc., 401 E. Wilson Bridge Rd., Worthington, OH 43085). Young Matt Painter, who lives with his father, mother, dog Jessie, a black Labrador, and her pup Jasper, has recently moved from London to an old farmhouse in East Anglia known as Willow Tree Farm. Maurice Painter is a salesman who has taken a pay cut to represent his company in Holland rather than the United States so that he could commute to work by plane and his family could have their own home rather than living in apartments or rented houses. Matt likes the country, but he misses his best friend Anne from London. However, he makes friends with Reg and Jim, a couple of out of work handymen next door at Willow Tree Cottage, as well as Martin and Sharon, two of his schoolmates. Then Reg and Jim accuse Jessie of killing their chickens. Matt no longer likes them.
The police tell the Painters that if Jessie kills any more chickens, she’ll have to be put down. And while Matt and Anne, who is visiting for the holiday, try to gather evidence to prove Jessie’s innocence, the poor dog falls through the pond ice, nearly drowns, and is pulled out barely breathing. Is there anyone who can save Jessie? Please Save Jessie is said to be the sequel to A Home for Jessie, which I have not read but conclude from various statements and conversations in the book tells the story about how Matt initially rescues Jessie, then they are separated when Matt’s family moves to the United States and Jessie gets lost, and finally they are all reunited. There is a bit of dark edginess and realism that are fairly common to British children’s literature of this period, with references to drinking wine and beer, even getting drunk, and smoking cigarettes. The exclamations “O my God” and “for God’s sake” occur a few times, and Matt and Anne tell a couple of lies in trying to get evidence to clear Jessie.
However, on several occasions when things look really bad, Matt prays or cries to God for help, and everything seems to work out for the best in the end. There might also be an important lesson that could initiate a discussion about the need to avoid bad company. This is a modern boy and his dog story set in England, and I basically enjoyed it. I do not know if there are any further “Jessie” books. Christine Pullein-Thompson (1925-2005) and her two sisters, Josephine Pullein-Thompson and Diana Pullein-Thompson, primarily wrote horse and pony books, mostly fictional, aimed at children and mainly popular with girls. Their mother, Joanna Cannan, sister of the poet May Cannan, wrote similar equestrian stories but is better known for her detective mysteries.