________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 1. . . .September 4, 2015


Buddy and Earl.

Maureen Fergus. Illustrated by Carey Sookocheff.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood/House of Anansi, 2015.
32 pp., hardcover & pdf, $16.95 (hc.), $14.95 (pdf).
ISBN 978-1-55498-712-2 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-55498-713-9 (pdf).

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7.

Review by Meredith Cleversey.

**** /4



Buddy concentrated hard on staying.

Then he got an itch. By the time he’d finished scratching it, he’d forgotten all about staying.

He trotted over and peered into the box. Inside there was a strange-looking thing.

Buddy stared at the thing. He wondered what it was. He sniffed and sniffed. Maybe I should lick it, he thought.

All at once, the thing began to snuffle and hiss and make funny popping sounds. It’s alive! thought Buddy. How exciting!


On a lonely afternoon, Buddy suddenly finds himself with a new playmate named Earl. But what, exactly, is Earl? As Buddy tries to figure out if this new prickly pet is a race car or maybe even a giraffe, his loneliness slips away and the guessing game turns into an afternoon of fun with a great new friend.

      Buddy and Earl, written by Maureen Fergus, is a charming tale about a fun-loving dog and an imaginative hedgehog who meet for the first time. Buddy is curious when his owner brings home a new pet. But he’s not sure what kind of pet it is. Earl tells Buddy he’s a sea urchin and a hairbrush, among other things. But although Buddy knows Earl is not telling the truth, he soon finds himself swept up in Earl’s game.

      Buddy and Earl is a cute story about the ways imagination can make any boring day fun. The two pets never once leave the living room or play with any toys, but they still manage to have a lot of fun make-believing. This is a good story for reading aloud or for reading independently. The plot is straightforward and amusing, and readers will have fun watching Buddy as he tries to figure out his new friend. The message at the end of this story is also a positive one. When Buddy gets in trouble for playing in (and messing up) the living room, Earl tries to take the blame, showing Buddy that, while he may be a bit mischievous (as seen in the way he tries to deceive Buddy as to his real identity), Earl is also a true friend.

internal art     The illustrations by Carey Sookocheff are a perfect fit for Fergus’s style of storytelling. Using muted colours and a simple design style, Sookocheff captures the day-to-day, quiet atmosphere of Buddy’s home. But as he and Earl start imagining, the illustrations show the living room turning into an ocean, and the shoebox Earl came in changing into a sailor’s hat atop Buddy’s head. The transformations are subtle as the colour-scheme doesn’t change (the carpet, for instance, is the same shade of blue as the ocean it turns into), and certain objects, such as the living room couch, always remain even in the midst of their play. This style of illustrating both the reality and fantasy of the friends’ game creates a wonderful visual accompaniment to the text, making it obvious Buddy and Earl are only pretending, while still allowing readers the chance to immerse themselves in the adventure.

      Buddy and Earl is a strong first book in the new “Buddy and Earl” series. Readers will enjoy the antics of these two playful friends and will look forward to more of their adventures in the future.

Highly Recommended.

Meredith Cleversey is a librarian in Cambridge, ON. She loves to read, write, and live in a world of pure imagination.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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