CM . . .
. Volume XXI Number 7. . . .October 17, 2014
A farmer asks his dog Max to help catch a thief who’s been eating several of his crops. Max tracks his suspect, a blue bug, from crop to crop, each time encountering another animal who is obviously the real thief, brazenly eating the food in question. Max eventually chases the bug from the farm over a fence, whereupon the thieving animals hold a party to celebrate Max’s triumph by eating even more of the endangered crops.
Sure to be a storytime favorite, this story is full of the kind of highly obvious irony that the kindergarten set will lap up, especially in an oral setting. Kids will delight at the fact that they only can see the truth, with Max and the other animals being oblivious to who is the real “thief”. The narrator maintains total ignorance of what is going on, even while observing evidence such as the pig “sucking on a strawberry.” The illustrations similarly make no attempt to hide the obvious duplicity, even adding a visual gag or two, such as the sleeping, fattened animal crew having found the best place to “hide” the food from the thief.
Pratt’s gouache on paper paintings are lush, colorful, and full of his typical simple yet expressive characters. Pug nosed Max, in particular, has expression in his face that would appeal to children on an immediate level. Distant views of the farmer going about his work and doing things like taking a nap and fixing his tractor add to the visual richness of the book which combines mainly double page spreads with singles and occasional white framed detail tableaux. The final frame of the bug still rising into the sky leaves open to the imagination whether this imagined thief might simply return over the fence. A delight.
Todd Kyle is the CEO of the Newmarket Public Library in Ontario.
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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.