Reviews & Press Features
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The Children's Book Review, by Bianca Schulze
March 1, 2019
What to expect: Dogs, Siblings, Rhyme, Self-Discovery, and Friendship
Pipsqueak the Puppy is an endearing picture book about the runt of a puppy litter who learns that you do not have to be big and fast to win at things. The tale is inspired by author Lissa Webber’s own children and all proceeds from this book go to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, where her son received a life-saving surgery as a baby.
It’s spring, and Mama Ruff has just had 8 puppies. Big Rover is joyful and full of pride. Each of the eight puppies varies in size and has their own personality. The eighth and smallest puppy is given a name to counter her size; she is named after Bella, the first queen of Spain. However, the name that sticks turns out to be Pipsqueak. Feeling sad and sidelined from a ballgame of Keep Away with her siblings, Pipsqueak has a chance encounter with a squirrel who provides her with some trusty advice that leads to an empowering discovery: “When you are small, you must play smart—/that’s what sets you free.”
Because of the cadence and sounds that command ears to listen and make word connections, this rhyming picture book would lend itself well to a read-aloud session.
“The largest pup was Thoomas, who was calm and so polite,
and next came naughty Horace, clearly looking for a fight.”
Lissa Webber has also built some fun onomatopoeia into the language that young kids will certainly enjoy: ““They’re mooving,” said the cow…” and “What precious little neigh-bors, called the biggest horse….” Cheery faced dogs and bright digital illustrations with loads of calming green space fill the inviting pages, too.
Adults looking for a picture book with a message of self-empowerment for youngsters that could do with a little boost of encouragement will be sure to connect with this sweet tale.
See the full review here.
Simply Buckhead Magazine, Jan/Feb 2019
LITTLE BOOK, BIG MESSAGE
A local mom's first work is inspired by lessons for her own kids
Story: H.M. Cauley
Growing up in Buckhead, where she attended Morris Brandon Elementary and Sutton Middle School, Lissa Webber was enamored of writing. But after graduating from the University of North Carolina, her career path led her in an opposite direction. First were the years as an investment banker in New York, followed by business school at the University of Chicago. By 2012, Webber was married and heading back to Atlanta’s warmer weather and an acquisitions job with Turner Broadcasting. It wasn’t until she left the corporate world to take full-time charge of raising her kids, now 3 years old and 20 months, that the thought of writing reemerged. “I’ve always loved to write, but I never pushed through it,” says the Buckhead resident. “But reading to my children sparked that love in me again.”
Webber was also aware that children’s books present a different challenge than the fiction adults consume. “[As a parent, I] read them over and over and over, so it really matters that I like the book, too,” she says with a laugh. “But so many books out there for this age group are kind of fluffy. I love the ones that have some substance, but they’re harder to find. That’s what started my toying with the idea of writing something myself.”
Webber also noticed that many children’s books feature boys as lead characters. “Even the animals are boys,” she says. “My little girl would often ask, ‘Is Gerald the giraffe a girl?’ And I thought, ‘Why can’t he be?’ So even though I wanted to write a book that would appeal to everyone, it was important to have lead characters who are girls.”
Combining those elements inspired Webber’s debut work, Pipsqueak the Puppy, the tale of the tiniest pup in a litter who tackles feeling left out, an unconventional friendship with a squirrel and learning to be herself. The lessons are subtly taught in singsong verse.
“The main theme is about being the best version of yourself to be successful,” says Webber. “The old and chunky squirrel teaches Pipsqueak that she can’t be somebody else; she has to play in her own way. Another theme is building bridges between unlikely friends and the idea that we can all learn from each other.”
Webber’s chief critic, her daughter, Claire, is also the new book’s first fan. “She loves it and thinks the squirrel is so funny,” says Webber. “But she identifies with Pipsqueak because every child feels small and wants to be bigger.”
While Webber’s son, Ryan, is too young to connect to the book, he did play a vital role in his mom’s decision to donate all of the proceeds from the sale of the book to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. When Ryan was just 7 months, an unusual intestinal infection landed him in the hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery.
“It was the most terrifying week of my life,” says Webber. “But in a few days, he was the healthiest kid ever. Thankfully, there was nothing tragic about the story, but you don’t know you need a good children’s hospital until you need it.”
My Buckhead Magazine, February 2019
"The vibrant illustrations and sweet story about perseverance and friendship in Pipsqueak the Puppy are a delight for both parents and children. Written by Buckhead resident Lissa Webber, 100 percent of the book's proceeds benefit Children's Healthcare of Atlanta's Canines For Kids program. Webber selected the nonprofit based on the exceptional care its team provided for her son, Ryan, in 2017."