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Saturday, March 9, 2024

Book Review: The Famous Phoebe of Long Isand


THE FAMOUS PHOEBE OF LONG ISLAND: Phoebe's Adventures at Sailors Haven


AUTHOR OF BOOK's NAME: Jean Derespina







 __Yes, I have received permission from the reviewer to reprint their review in its entirety. 


REVIEWER’S BYLINE: Rita Plush, Fire Island News Book Review Columnist



Long Islander Jean Derespina, a writer of marketing materials, has brought her affection for Fire Island and its seashore to the pages of a children’s book. 

This is a story about Phoebe, a puppy who is adopted from a shelter and has adventures on Sailors Haven with her new parents, Jeana and Frank. It is a warm and engaging story that will resonate with anyone who has a dog or is thinking of adopting one. But the book is more than that. It’s about feeling loved and protected, and though the tale is told from a puppy’s point of view, it could very well be a child who is telling the story. 

Phoebe is “the luckiest puppy in the world because out of all the puppies in the shelter, I got picked by the nicest family. They love me very much.” And off they motor in their boat into the Great South Bay, Phoebe “more than a little scared at first,” but Jeana held her close while Frank drove. 

Phoebe has many experiences at Sailors Haven. She makes friends as children do, and her excitement is palpable when she learns she can swim. In the forest she comes upon animals she has never seen before. “A long, skinny animal that didn’t have legs or paws wiggled right by us!” 

On the walk back to the beach, Phoebe notices three deer grazing and makes the connection that her parents are going to have their dinner too, linking humans to the animal world. 

Venturing out on her own, Phoebe dashes down the beach after a bird in flight. After the bird is out of sight she worries. “Where was everyone? Where was I? I was alone, and I was really scared,” her doggie brain thinks, but her fears could just as well be the fears of a child. 

I can see a parent reading this story and saying to their little one. “You must never run away or go where we can’t find you,” the child nodding solemnly. 

The soft watercolor drawings by Amelina Jones play on the easy narrative. Jones uses blues, blue/greens for water, and browns for the puppy and vegetation in many of the illustrations, but she is not confined to a limited palette. Variations of yellow and yellow/greens come up in a spread where the family is walking through Sunken Forest, the prose set on the page as if illuminated by the sun. On the other end of the spectrum is black, used lavishly in a dramatic nighttime scene. The pages come to life with little pinpoints of white like “millions of stars lighting up the sky.” The boat’s “gentle rocking kept [Phoebe] asleep all night,” as the family headed back to shore. 

And that’s what this book is: a gentle story about family, with little Phoebe its centerpiece.

Link to the review:



MORE ABOUT THE REVIEWER: Rita Plush has been the book reviewer for The Fire Island News since 2015. Learn more at her website, or at



Jean is a member of the SCBWI and is on the Board of Directors of the Long Island Author Group. 


For years, Jean held positions as a corporate content developer. During her marketing career, she always made timeto indulge in her passion for writing children's stories. In 2014, Jean left the corporate world to start my own company, The Marketing Gig, LLC. After an encouraging start, she was seriously injured in an accident that required over a year’s recovery. Writing played an instrumental role in her healing process.


Post rehabilitation, Jean released two self-published two picture books, which have sold over 1,500 copies. They are in circulation at approximately six libraries and on the shelves at Barnes & Noble. Learn more about Jean and The Famous Phoebe of Long Island at 

Twitter @JeandAuthor

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 The New Book Review is blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. Authors, readers, publishers, and reviewers may republish their favorite reviews of books they want to share with others. That includes authors who want to share their favorite reviews, reviewers who'd like to see their reviews get more exposure, and readers who want to shout out praise of books they've read and love. Please see submission guidelines in a tab at the top of this blog's home page or go directly to the submission guidelines at or to the guideline tab at the top of the home page of this blog. Authors and publishers who do not yet have reviews or want more may use Lois W. Stern's #AuthorsHelpingAuthors service for requesting reviews. Find her guidelines in the right column of this blog home page (a silver and gold badge and threee silver-gray circles beneath it. Carolyn Wilhelm is our IT expert, an award-winning author and veteran educator, she also contributes reviews and posts on other topics related to books. Reviews, interviews, and articles on this blog are indexed by genre, reviewers' names, and review sites so #TheNewBookReview may be used as a resource for most anyone in the publishing industry. As an example, writers will find this blog's search engine handy for gleaning the names of small publishers. Find other writer-related blogs at Sharing with Writers and The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor. #TheFrugalbookPromoter, #CarolynHowardJohnson, #TheNewBookReview, #TheFrugalEditor,

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