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The Parent Resource Centre

Stanley – Book Review


Written and Illustrated by Colin Thompson

It’s review day and we have a beautiful story for preschoolers and early primary kids on single parent families, blended families and love at first sight – oh, and dogs! Read on…

Something to Remember…

 Please always remember that reading is a very individual activity and your child may benefit from simpler or more advanced books than books recommended for their age. Always take your own child’s abilities and development level into account when selecting books for them.

Stanley is one of those dogs you really wouldn’t want to encounter in a dark alley. He looks as if he has ‘been built out of bricks’ but inside he is soft and loyal to his human, Gerald. Gerald is a small, weedy, harmless looking boy who is just the same on the inside as on the outside. He lives in a quiet house with his mum and Stanley and sometimes Stanley feels it’s all a bit too quiet and peaceful. One day, when Stanley is playing with his rubber ball in the park, a tiny little dog with a pink bow and a big attitude steals the ball. This leads to her owner, Felicity, returning it and a new friendship developing between Gerald and Felicity – and Gerald’s mum and Felicity’s dad. Gerald overcomes his terrible shyness, Stanley and Lulu, the ball-stealer, become friends, and the two little families eventually become one bigger, noisier family which suits Stanley just fine.

Stanley has simple characters who are understated and easy to relate to. The plot of two single families becoming one blended one is increasingly familiar in the world and it’s always nice to see these types of diverse family situations normalized in books for younger kids, to help them make sense of the world they’re living on. Where the story shows some brilliance is in having Stanley, the dog, be the main character. As the pet, he sees things without the complexity of emotion that humans bring to new interactions. Stanley and Lulu accept the two families joining with equilibrium, accepting new events without question and simply enjoying the new atmosphere.

It’s a beautiful contrast to the shyness and friendship between the children and the dawning realization of love between the two adults. Stanley tells the story of changing family dynamics with a light touch and a lot of love. The illustrations help young readers to recognise what might be coming – Gerald and Felicity’s dad look alike and Felicity and Gerald’s mum look alike – the pairs belong naturally together. Stanley’s soft interior and hard exterior match Lulu’s cute, harmless looks and inner scrappiness. The story is full of these clever contrasts and matches and it is a delight to read.

You will enjoy reading this story over and over to your young reader and each time you do, something new will strike you. With plenty of talking points for families considering the blended option, Stanley is an excellent book for children aged 3 to 7 (the concepts discussed in this picture book belie the simplicity of the text and will continue to be appropriate for an older child who needs a simple way to comprehend these events and concepts). An excellent addition to any family’s bookshelf – regardless of the type of family.


Our Rating (channeling our love of ice cream, our rating system works the way we like our ice cream: the more scoops the better. Besides, good books should be devoured! 

Best = four scoops):

four scoops icecream

Four scoops! Get in there and eat up!




Would you like to win a copy of Stanley? Comment below and tell us about an animal in your life with some serious personality! You could win a copy of Stanley? The winner will be selected from the commenters and informed by email.

Unclaimed prizes will be donated.



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