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Pickle Me This

September 17, 2015

Buddy and Earl, by Maureen Fergus and Carey Sookocheff

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There are books, and there are books, and even in the realms of the best books, there are the books my children like and the books that I do. And Buddy and Earl, by Maureen Fergus, illustrated by Carey Sookoocheff, manages to be both.

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Stories of unlikely pals abound in picture books, and Buddy and Earl is refreshingly different. The characters’ relationship is not built on their respective differences (and learning to appreciate and respect them, blah blah blah) but on highly individuated interactions. Buddy is not just DOG, but A dog with best intentions, insatiable curiosity and a tendency to forgo the rules. Earl is a bad influence with a remarkable imagination and is ever-so-cool that butter wouldn’t melt.

But what is Earl exactly? Answering this question is Buddy’s first task in their relationship, and while Earl attempts to steer him wrong (and have a bit of fun: “I’m a race car!” “I’m a sea urchin.”) before finally revealing his real identity: “The truth is that I’m a talking hair brush.”

Buddy, who’s a bit simple-minded, uses all the rational powers at his disposal to get to the heart of the matter of Earl: “You do not have a steering wheel. You do not have wheels. I do not think that you’re a racecar, Earl.” Or, “You look like a sea urchin, Earl, but I do not think you are a sea urchin. You see, sea urchins are underwear creatures and the living room is not underwater.” Turns out Buddy is not so simple after all. (And reading this deadpan dialogue aloud is so much fun.)

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BUT. It turns out the living room IS underwater, or at least it is in the game that Earl ropes Buddy into, a game of pirates, in which the ship is the couch—a dog no-go zone. The two embark upon an eventful voyage with lots of noise and tomfoolery, so that Buddy eventually gets into trouble and Earl gets off scot-free. Because who ever imagined that an innocent hedgehog could cause so much trouble?

In the end, neither is able to identify the other in a taxonomic sense, but both decide it doesn’t matter. Because what are Buddy and Earl after all? Well, they are friends. And this adventure is just the beginning, because there are two more books in store. We are looking forward to them.

2 thoughts on “Buddy and Earl, by Maureen Fergus and Carey Sookocheff”

  1. melanie says:

    I love when books we love and books our children love intersect. Sadly this can not be said for the collection of Pinkalicious stories someone gifted my middle child last year. She gets really mad when we call it Pukalicious (and given the state of my family’s health that is really appropriate lately). And Oonagh, for all her love of dinosaurs and trains can still sniff that book out of any hiding place. So this looks like a book I need to get my hands on soon (and I also need better hiding places for Pukalicious).

    1. Kerry says:

      In our house, we keep pukey books in a box and the real books go on the shelf. We don’t read them at bedtime either. The two-tiered system keeps me from having to read The Berenstain Bears *all* the time…

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