Monday, August 21, 2006


TOOT & PUDDLE: THE ONE AND ONLY by Holly Hobbie (Little Brown)
Bubbles recieves a warm welcome as a new student in Opal's class, and soon gloms on to Opal. So begins a year of imitation as Bubbles cops Opal's dress tyle, her Halloween costume, her turkey artwork, even her one-in-a-million snowflake. Opal's family in Woodcock Hollow reassure her lovingly ("Never mind, we all know who made the most beautiful snowflake,") and try to encourage her to be tolerant and view this behavior as a form of flattery. But when Bubbles' "personality plagiarism" starts making her popular, it might be too bitter a pill for Opal to swallow. Just in time for the annual school theatrical extravaganza , Opal discovers something at which Bubbles falls short. Will Opal be able to swallow her pride just once more in order to help Bubbles, and her class?

This is a marvelous treatise on the patience we need to extend to other people as they find themselves, but equally, it is a pitch-perfect porcine portrait of the lovely myriad of ways little girls find to drive each other crazy. Opal's best friend Daphne wins the best supporting friend award, with chagrin over the indignities suffered palpable even through a Halloween mask. The difficult idea that being kind even when we feel like being mean results is betterment for everyone is done with panache and sans preachiness. If the Newbery committee can find it in its heart to give an award to one more pig book, I say this should be a contender. Each picture is so expressive, working well with the text to carry us through all of the seasons, the use of the space on the page is dynamic, and details capture so much of the lively activity of school. Though Holly Hobbie's early work has been largely commercialized (sometimes to the point of being unrecognizable from the sweet "country" flavor that some of us old folks from the 1970's might remember), I think this Toot & Puddle shows that she is no copycat; her style is always distinctive and recognizable, and she has shown tremendous growth over the years even starting from a place of sensitivity and talent. (5 and up)

Also of interest:
RUBY THE COPYCAT by Peggy Rathmann (Scholastic) A classic copycat drives a classmate, and a teacher, to the brink of explosion. Luckily, even copycats eventually find talents that are all their own! (5 and up)

Links are provided for informational use. Don't forget to support your local bookseller.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Is there a book like this for boys? My four year-old won't make a decision until he sees what his older brothers choose. I read Ruby the Copycat to him, but it would be great if there was a book from a boy's perspective.

Thanks, Esme, for the fantastic blog!


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