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Sunday, March 27, 2016

Buddy and Earl, written by Maureen Fergus and illustrated by Carey Sookocheff. Groundwood, 2015. $16.95 ages 4 and up

"Slowly, Earl changed from a tight ball of prickles into a flattish prickly thing with a face. "The truth is that I'm a talking hairbrush." Buddy was almost positive that Earl was not a talking hairbrush. Before he could give voice to his doubts, however, Earl said, "And what are you, Buddy? Wait! Don't tell me. Let me guess."

Told to leave the box alone is his undoing. Buddy cannot hide his snoopy nature. Soon, he is right up next to that box, intent on discovering what is inside. He is definitely intrigued by what he finds - something he has never seen in his life! Almost ready to give it a lick, 'the thing' moves and after introductions, Buddy asks Earl to describe himself.

And that's where the fun begins for young listeners! First he says he is a race car. Buddy pooh-poohs that idea quickly, noting that Earl doesn't have a steering wheel or wheels, both important features of said race car. Earl is nothing, if not imaginative after suggesting that he is a giraffe, a sea urchin, and a talking toothbrush. None is an acceptable description for Buddy.

Earl then turns the table in an effort to discover what Buddy is. Not a skyscraper, or a rhinoceros, or a mouse, he finally shares an idea that Buddy finds intriguing and full of adventure. Off they go! When Mom walks in on them, she is not pleased with the mess made in the living room. Buddy is in big trouble now! It is s only when Mom leaves that Buddy shares what he has discovered about Earl's real identity.

The conversation between the two leads those who share this lovely book to understand a growing friendship, and the lack of importance for labels. Humor is abundant, and will elicit quiet giggles and perhaps even loud guffaws at the initial misunderstandings. In the end, all that matters is that a friendship has been established in this first book of a new series.

Carey Sookocheff chooses a simple, appealing style and a gentle palette of color for the perfect artwork to accompany this welcome tale of friendship and adventure.

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