CM . . .
. Volume XXII Number 20. . . .January 29, 2016
When his human family goes to bed, Buddy the dog curls up on his blanket in the kitchen and prepares for a good night’s sleep. But Earl the hedgehog has other plans. He’s preparing to go on a voyage, one that takes him into the kitchen and, with Buddy in tow, leads him to glorious sights and dangerous foes in the form of water bowls, purses, and vacuum cleaners.
Buddy and Earl Go Exploring, by Maureen Fergus and illustrated by Carey Sookocheff, is the second book in the “Buddy and Earl” series, with the first being Buddy and Earl. This time, Earl leads the way on an imaginative adventure in the family kitchen while Buddy trails behind, not quite sure why Earl think’s a purse is a monster but nevertheless delighted to defend himself and his friend from the troublesome beast. Just as was seen in the first story of this series, Buddy and Earl Go Exploring showcases how these unlikely companions make wonderful friends. Earl could easily be seen as a troublemaker as his adventurous spirit often results in a mess (which is then blamed on Buddy). However, Earl is friendly and appreciative of Buddy’s company, and he does his best to stand up for his friend in the face of peril. Likewise, while Buddy has trouble seeing the world Earl envisions (Earl sees a lake for swimming while Buddy only sees his water dish), he still enjoys playing his friend’s game (water dish or not, he’s excited to join Earl for a ‘swim’). Earl’s active imagination, combined with Buddy’s excited loyalty, makes this pair a great team.
The illustrations by Carey Sookocheff help the reader to see the kitchen from both friends’ perspectives. Done in soft hues of grey, brown, blue, and purple, the illustrations capture both the uninteresting details of a normal household kitchen, as well as the intriguing landscape of Earl’s imaginative travels. When Earl sees a purse with a hairbrush sticking out of its top, he thinks it’s a monster eating a lovely lady hedgehog. Buddy doesn’t see the monster, but only the purse sitting on a stool. The illustrations highlight both sides of the story, showcasing the object in its inanimate form as well as in its active state. Subtle changes in the way the objects are drawn make it easy for readers to experience the same scene from two different viewpoints, adding to the fun of the adventure by offering a visual explanation of what Earl experiences while simultaneously making Buddy’s confusion easy to comprehend. It’s an effective method of visual storytelling, and Sookocheff handles it quite successfully.
Maureen Fergus and Carey Sookocheff’s second “Buddy and Earl” story is a marvellous successor to the first book in the series. Buddy and Earl Go Exploring is a charming story of imagination and adventure shared between two friends who see the world very differently. Readers will find Earl’s confident courage and Buddy’s uncertain yet enthusiastic companionship entertaining and sweet.
Meredith Cleversey is a librarian in Cambridge, ON. She loves to read, write, and live in a world of pure imagination.
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