Book Review – Kurt, Gert, Jazmine, and Bagel

Kurt, Gert, Jazmine, and Bagel
Irene Dolnick
Paperback, 2014
illustrations by Richa Kinra


So, those of us get a lot of books at Book in the Bag to review.  We’ve asked for them, but we don’t just go all out willy nilly.  We always have some reason that we want a particular book.

In this case, it was a children’s book and it sounded interesting and cute.  On Black Friday (for those of you outside the USA, that’s the biggest shopping day of the year – the day after our Thanksgiving holiday), I stopped to get my mail and came up with this gem, which I read out loud in the car as Mom and I drove around.  [Additional side note:  please remember, here at BitB, we only have to *write* the review in a timely manner, it doesn’t have to post live right away.  Just sayin’.]

Because this book came to me for review, it also came to me with a press release.  I don’t, as a matter of course, read those before the book.  But I will get to that in a couple minutes.

The book is about a beagle dog named Jazmine, and is told third person.  I’m guessing it’s a phonics type of a book because all throughout the text parts of words were underlined or turned red.  Seriously.  Now, keep in mind that I was reading this thing out loud – the red/underline thing made the book incredibly hard to read.  I’ve read books upside down that were easier.

Now, based on the text I was given, and my mother agrees, the book had a potential premise, but it never got there and a few weird things happened in the meantime.  Jazmine starts out jealous that her not-homeless friends Gert and Kurt are inside nice and warm and then she meets another homeless dog – Bagel the beagle – and they go for food and to plan and adventure.  Then jealousy and worry take over and the book ends with… a phone call?  What?

So I went back and I read the press release.  (See, I told you we’d get back to that.)  Apparently the story is about Jazmine being jealous of her friends in their warm, cozy house, and it’s a story of friendship and adventure.    If you go by the press release, the book actually sounds pretty cute, and I’m guessing this is why I picked this book to begin with.

And I can see places where the story got near that premise, but there were several things that just didn’t get there.  Jumps in logic and a few places where there needed to be pages added to the story.

The grammar also had a LOT of issues – each page was one ugly blob of text, no matter if multiple characters were talking or not.  Also, every sentence of dialogue was surrounded by its own quotes, even if it was multiple consecutive sentences said by the same character.  Another thing is that the adverbs ran amok and the dialog tags (a pet peeve of mine) were obnoxious.  The author went so far as to tell us that one character was saying something to the other character, even though most of the book consisted of only Jazmine and Bagel talking to each other.

Also, there were a few weird words that I’m pretty sure were only used because of how they sounded.  For instance, Kurt tells Jazmine that “there is a gaff in your thinking” at one point.  Mom was annoyed because of the spelling of gaff, but also because the word is hardly used and really has no place in a kids book, because no kid is going to know it (and half their parents won’t either).

With that said, the artwork was really nice. Mom and I both liked it, although Bagel looked a little more like a kangaroo and less like a dog a couple places.  But the colors were nice and it had a watercolor feel.  So kudos to the artist.

But the author.  I don’t even know what to say about this book.  I mean, it feels like a rough draft was bound and presented.  Also, the $25.95 cover price for a forty page paperback is ridiculous.  It’s also available as an eBook, but I can’t imagine that this book looks any different in eBook form than it does in paperback, although the font color won’t be different and that might be a plus.

While I’m at it, nowhere did I see anything that told me this was a advance copy, but the copyright is for 2014 – remember, I got the book in November of 2013, and the press release says it was published in October – so I’m hoping that’s the case.  And because of that, I’m not going to give it a number rating.  Let’s hope the author comes out with a second edition.   This book needs an edit – and a grammar coach.



2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Alice
    Oct 19, 2015 @ 17:55:20

    I happen to disagree with you !!! this book is loved by children especially struggling readers. I tested it in classrooms and it is a hit.


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