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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

It's Only Stanley, written and illustrated by Jon Agee. Dial Books for Young Readers, Penguin. 2015. $19.99 ages 5 and up

"Now Wilma wasn't happy.
And the children threw a fit.
"We'll never get to sleep tonight
If Stanley doesn't quit!"

"I understand," said Walter,
"And I'll talk to him right now."
But just as Walter turned to go,
There was a big -


The Wimbledons love their dog Stanley. On this particular night, they are less inclined to express that sentiment. The night is filled with noises; all of them stem from something that Stanley is doing. They hear him first when he howls at the moon. It wakes the Wimbledon parents, and Walter is sent outside to investigate. He returns with the news that 'it's only Stanley'. The parents  return to nighttime slumber.

The next noise is noticed by daughter Wendy. It's a definite clanking sound. Walter is off, once more, to find the source of  the noise. This time Stanley is fixing the oil tank. As the night progresses, Willie comes into his parents' bedroom complaining of a 'funky' smell. Upon checking it out, Walter announces that Stanley is making stew. The third visitor, and fourth sound, upsets Wanda because of a buzz. It's getting later and later. Walter returns to say that Stanley has fixed the old television.

The last of the Wimbledon children arrives with news that he has heard a splash. Can't be rain - they have experienced very little of it lately. A check of the bathroom finds Stanley clearing the drain in the bathtub. Everyone is now upset and want to see a change! The KAPOW! that greets Walter as he turns to deal with Stanley has the entire family thrown helter-skelter.

Walter's final inspection and discovery is quite remarkable - and very funny!

I look forward with great anticipation to every new book by Jon Agee. He has a way of taking a story, turning it on its head, and entertaining his audience from first page to last. He uses rhythm and rhyme to great effect in this one, and repetitive phrasing, to give eager young readers a very good chance at trying it on their own. He builds a sense of unease with each new noise, and every foray that Walter makes to find the source of it. Then, he lets it go with a KAPOW! Perfect and sure to be requested on more than many occasions as a favorite read.

His signature artwork focuses attention on the double page spreads that show just exactly what Stanley is doing, and how the cat is faring through it all. Eagle-eyed readers may even guess exactly what is happening, without benefit of text as Stanley works diligently to soothe his lovesick heart.

Another terrific book for my Jon Agee shelf!

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