Enjoy the humor, and the depth of characterization, in both art and text, and hope for more Buddy and Earl adventures.
Fergus succeeds in engaging readers with this rollicking adventure in a way that never feels didactic or forced. . . Sookocheff marks a promising debut with her first picture book.
Readers will enjoy the antics of these two playful friends and will look forward to more of their adventures in the future. Highly Recommended.
Their charmingly raucous game of make-believe is appealing enough, but the sneaky lesson in deductive reasoning makes this frolicsome, read-aloud-friendly picture book truly outstanding.
Fergus (And What If I Wont?) and debut artist Sookocheff kick off a picture book series with an understated winner of a friendship story. A "strange-looking thing" in a "mysterious box" has been dropped off in the living room. While the creature is forthcoming about his name, Earl, he keeps a dog named Buddy guessing about what he actually is, telling Buddy that he is everything from a race car to a giraffe. Buddy is unconvinced: "I am pretty sure that giraffes have long, graceful necks, Earl. As far as I can tell, you have no neck at all." Most readers will recognize that Earl is a hedgehog, but it's clear that the animal's imagination and sense of adventure are what really matter as he talks Buddy into a pretend game of pirates, which involves forbidden activities like climbing on the furniture. The clean lines and soft palette of Sookcheff's digitally assembled watercolors feel simultaneously of-the-moment and timeless, and the same can be said for the rewarding and gently funny relationship that develops between these two animals. Ages 4–7. (Aug.)
A 49th Shelf Favourite Picture Book of the Year
A Boston Globe Best Book of 2015 for Kids
A Bank Street College of Education Children's Book of the Year, 2016
CCBC Best Books for Children and Teens, Spring 2016
"Fergus' deadpan text and Sookocheff's simple, flowing artwork work in elemental harmony, working together to elevate the book to a subliminal sophistication that breathes something quite smart into the proceedings." Kirkus , starred review "Earl and Buddy know the secret of camaraderie and play it out in fine form." Kirkus , starred review
"Their charmingly raucous game of make-believe is appealing enough, but the sneaky lesson in deductive reasoning makes this frolicsome, read-aloud-friendly picture book truly outstanding." Booklist , starred review
"An understated winner of a friendship story. . . . simultaneously of-the-moment and timeless." Publishers Weekly , starred review
"Enjoy the humor, and the depth of characterization, in both art and text, and hope for more Buddy and Earl adventures." Horn Book
"'There's obviously no fooling you, Buddy,' said Earl. 'So I'm going to tell you the truth.'
Slowly, Earl changed from a tight ball of prickles into a flattish prickly thing with a face.
'The truth is that I'm a talking hairbrush.'
Buddy was almost positive that Earl was not a talking hairbrush."
from the book
K-Gr 2—On a rainy afternoon Buddy the dog is bored and lonely, trapped in the house with his family. Watching the raindrops fall, he is surprised when his owner Meredith brings in a box that contains an odd looking object. The new "thing" is indeed alive and introduces itself as Earl. Since Buddy is not sure what type of thing Earl could be, the two begin a guessing game to solve the mystery. The inventive Earl claims to be many things, from a race car to a giraffe, and the two embark on a treacherous voyage using the sofa as their mock pirate ship. Despite the lack of a definitive answer regarding Earl's identity (he appears to be a hedgehog), Buddy is confident that ultimately Earl is nothing less than a friend. The neutral tones of the illustrations reflect the mood of a stormy day, and the depictions of the animal characters using Acryl Gouache are both soft and playful. VERDICT A simple story for animal loving readers and proponents of imaginative play.—Claire Moore, Darien Library, CT
Two creatures find an unlikely friendship when one takes on the role of gagman and the other an unwitting straight man.It's raining, and Buddy is bored. Buddy is in the living room, and Buddy isn't allowed to touch pretty much anything there. Buddy is a dog. The daughter of the house enters with a box containing a ball of sharp quills. The girl leaves. Buddy mooches over to get a closer look. Turns out the ball of quills talks. Call him Earl, says the ball of quills. Buddy asks Earl what he is. Earl suggests a race car. Buddy, though no Einstein, thinks not. Giraffe? No. Talking hairbrush? "Buddy was almost positive that Earl was not a talking hairbrush." Earl suggests they engage in some no-nos, like jumping on the sofa, then on the coffee table. Buddy's having too much of a blast to demur. Mom enters. Buddy gets a scolding, but Earl sticks up for him, even though Mom doesn't appear to hear Earl's defense of Buddy. Buddy does. And that's how a dog and a hedgehog become friends in this winning series opener. Fergus' deadpan text and Sookocheff's simple, flowing artwork work in elemental harmony, elevating the book to a subliminal sophistication that breathes something quite smart into the proceedings. Earl and Buddy know the secret of camaraderie and play it out in fine form. (Picture book. 4-7)