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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Bogart and Vinnie, written by Audrey Vernick and illustrated by Henry Cole. Bloomsbury, Penguin. 2013. $18.00 ages 3 and up

"Way in back, rarely
visited, stood Bogart,
a square-lipped
He breathed in the
grassy peace of the rhino
range - his alone.
He cherished the quiet,
his tail curled with happiness."

Oh boy, Vinnie is one of those characters who make you tired just watching him! He is intensely happy, and cannot contain his joy when he meets Bogart, a lumbering introvert. There could not be two animals more opposite in nature. Vinnie is oblivious to Bogart's obvious reluctance in the face of Vinnie's exuberance.

It's tough to know what draws the dog to the rhino, but it is clear that Vinnie loves his new best friend right from first spying him standing alone at the top of a small hill. Bogart has no such initial feelings of joy when he hears Vinnie chattering happily, and has no need for response.

As so often happens, Vinnie wears well on Bogart. It isn't long until they have managed to find camaraderie, one with the other. They do have something in common: a love of playing 'follow the leader'. It is not the only game in town. They also play hide and seek. Their friendship attracts media attention; soon many are enamoured of their relationship. Fame is fleeting:

"That was okay with Bogart and Vinnie. Because they had formed the kind of family where one member loves the other and one wants nothing more than to be left alone. But, still, a family."

The surprise ending is the perfect touch!

Henry Cole puts acrylic paints, colored pencil and ink to good use when creating these most charming characters. Their expression-filled faces are 'spot on!' Every page insists that attention be paid to the parallel story as Vinnie talk, talk, talks to anyone and everyone. There is so much going on...filled with humor and delight. I can hardly wait to get into a classroom to share it...there are sure to be giggles and guffaws.


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