Linda Ashman

children's book author, mom, wife, writing instructor, animal lover, gardener, vegetarian . . .


The Children's Book Committee of the BANK STREET COLLEGE OF EDUCATION'S BEST BOOKS OF 2008

Read other reviews on these terrific children's book blogs: Poetry for Kids, Three Silly Chicks, Wild Rose Reader, Ethan's Bookshelf, and BooksForKidsBlog.

Listen to a review of Stella, Unleashed on Just One More Book!!.

Linda talks about STELLA and writing with the creator of Ethan's Bookshelf and Read.Imagine.Talk right here.

"Ashman's text--a series of 29 poems--is a hilarious look at the world through the sharp eyes and nose of a dog. Stella's not only smart, but she's also opinionated, and readers will roar at her comments about her family." Karen MacPherson, Scripps Howard News Service

"An alternative title for this amusing take on a dog's life might well have been 'The World According to Stella,' with Stella, of course, being the first-person narrator of Linda Ashman's probing analysis of the canine psyche. Stella is unleashed in the sense that she is free to speak her mind, be it commentary about the quality of her kibble, the nettlesome cat, the new baby or getting into trouble for minor infractions. Paul Meisel's perky illustrations illustrate just how it is these lovable animals have it in them to be a kid's best friend." Nicholas A. Basbanes

"Stella, a newly adopted pound pooch, tells all in 29 poems, humorously describing her life. Readers get her opinions on topics from humans to Hollywood. The final selection, 'At Your Service,' sums up why dog lovers exist. Ideal for family read-alouds." School Library Journal

"Ashman's poems are lots of fun, recalling everything from how she ended up with just the right name to how she interacts with each of the puzzling humans with whom she lives. Busy, gleeful pictures extend the comedy of Ashman's verses, with Stella, alternately naughty and nice, at the center of it all." Booklist

"A perky brown dog named Stella is the first-person narrator in this collection of 29 humorous poems written from the canine perspective. The amusing, well-written poems are presented in a variety of formats. Meisel's illustrations bring Stella and her family to life with a bright palette of cheerful colors and a cast of characters that have real personality." Kirkus Reviews

"Linda Ashman's poetry in 'Stella, Unleashed' is as cheeky and exuberant as a puppy. Paul Meisel's playful paintings match Stella's enthusiasm, whether she's licking ice-cream cones or bounding around a dog park." Stephanie Dunnewind, Seattle Times
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Author's Note

At Your Service (above) is the last poem in the book, but was actually the first one I wrote for this collection. The original title was "For Nicky," in honor of our (at the time) 13-year-old pooch, a Lab/​Australian Shepherd mix. I was in my office one morning when Nicky came in and sat down beside my desk, as she typically did while I worked. I looked into her soulful brown eyes and wondered what she'd tell me if she could speak.

Our beloved Nicky, aka "Stella."

This book is my attempt to speak for her, an oddly easy thing to do, as it turned out. Nicky was an extremely strong-willed, opinionated girl, and she was clear about her likes and dislikes. And one thing she liked very much was food, as reflected in Don't Blame Me, the second poem I wrote (based on actual incidents, though you'd have to substitute "huge wedge of cheese" and "blueberry scone" for "steak"):

You placed the steak on the table's edge,
then walked out of the room.
There's no one here except for me.
What else would I assume?

I had so much fun writing this book, and loved working with my editor at Sterling, Meredith Mundy Wasinger, a fellow dog-lover. And I'm so pleased to have this book as a reminder of my great, funny friend, Nicky.

Paul Meisel's illustrations are wonderfully bright and colorful, and are filled with warmth and humor. And I love that he included Nicky on the dedication page opposite Stella (he also shows Meredith's pug and designer Lauren Rille's Jack Russell Terrier on the copyright page). To learn more about him, visit Paul's website.

Nicky died in 2007 at the great old age of 15, just a year after we lost Remy, our sweet pound pup. We miss them both.

Nicky and Remy

Teaching Themes: dogs and pets, family, humor, poetry (written from the dog's point of view), animal shelters and humane education. Find links to many excellent humane education resources at Humane Education Teacher and download other ideas here:


Brand New
"A go-to source of calm and comfort." PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
In Print
"Altogether delightful." Starred review, KIRKUS
"Excellent advice in a sweet and easy-to-swallow package." KIRKUS
"A memorable first skate by an irresistible imp." Starred review, KIRKUS
"Ashman's concept is both sophisticated and delightful." KIRKUS
"Beautifully crafted and satisfying." Starred Review, BOOKLIST
"Kids will love the colorful paintings while parents will appreciate that it's chock full of facts about the Centennial State." VAIL DAILY
A "lovely reverie on the joys of being alive and being loved." Starred Review, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
"As pithy and clever as Ogden Nash at his best." Starred Review, KIRKUS
"A splendid bedtime fantasy." KIRKUS
Other Titles
"Ashman's poetic portraits are packed with lots of tasty assonance and alliteration." Starred Review, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
"Quirky, sarcastic, and rather educational, too." BOOKLIST
"A 10 on the "aw"-inspiring scale." PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
"A family outing gone hilariously awry." BOOKLIST
"A rip-roaring, exciting excursion." SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
An "enchanting ride." PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
"The clever, rhyming text bounces along with perfect cadence." SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
"A riotous adventure." HORN BOOK MAGAZINE
"Vibrant, playful text . . . excellent for storytimes." SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
"A hilarious look at the world through the sharp eyes and nose of a dog." SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE
"This one's a keeper." SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
"Youngsters will find nothing but comfort in these pages." KIRKUS
"Ashman captures the non-stop action in rollicking rhyme." KIRKUS
A "captivating collaboration." Starred Review, KIRKUS
"A lighthearted look at bad behavior." KIRKUS
Wagmore is "a charming, gentle hero." KIRKUS REVIEWS