Thursday, July 1, 2010


Written and illustrated by Ned Young
$16.99, ages 3-7, 32 pages.

Of all three boy dogs, Zoomer's the one who doesn't waste a minute of his day. He's always leaping off something or turning mundane objects into fanciful things.

But now he's being obstinate about doing something he likes to do and Dad can't figure out why.

With Mom away, Dad has to round up the boys and get them ready for school. The problem is, Zoomer says he's not going to school and now he's running through the house getting into mischief.

Every time his brothers, Cooper and Hooper, head off to get their bubble bath and put on clean collars as they were told, Zoomer finds something else to do and distracts them too, making it almost impossible for Dad to get them ready.

First, Zoomer jumps on his bed in his cape pretending he's Super Puppy, then he slides down the banister and before you know it, he's out on the front lawn trying to blow the world's largest bubble out of a French horn.

Even Dad's amazed by his bubble blowing and quickly takes a picture to document the size of the bubbles before reminding his boys to finish their bath.

But of course Zoomer has too many ideas in his head and while Dad is shoveling kibble into the boys' lunch pails, Cooper tattles that Zoomer is playing with his food.

At a nearby table, Dad finds Zoomer shaping wet dog food into an elaborate castle with turrets on every tower and stairs that seem to ascend forever.

Dad suggests the sand box would be a better place to build a castle and tries to coax Zoomer to get ready instead. Zoomer, however, very politely declines and runs off to do something else.

Both Hooper and Cooper think Dad should give Zoomer a major time-out or ground him, but Dad is eternally patient, and while he tries to figure out what to do about Zoomer's behavior, Zoomer turns their home into an art museum.

On the front yard, he builds a brontosaurus out of sand that's so big only one foot fits in the sand box, while on the bricks of the house, he draws a solar scape of shooting stars and flying saucers while perched on a swing seat he's rigged like a window washing platform.

If that's not enough, he's donned a magician's cape and turned their blue couch into an elephant, and even convinced some birds outside to help him launch his homemade rocket, which then lands on a strange slanting world with shingles before coming to rest near the bus stop.

Hooper and Cooper, ever obedient, are waiting there at the bus stop with Dad when Zoomer appears from the hatch with a big grin.

Dad beseeches Zoomer to explain what's going on, after all Zoomer has always loved school. But what could justify Zoomer's crazy behavior and get them all to ditch school for a barbecue in the backyard?

Best Parts: Young captures so well what it's like to be a child who charges through life, finding fun wherever he goes.

Many parents will recognize the look on Zoomer's face when he launches into a project as the same giddy expression they see on their child's face when he gets an inkling to create something grand out of objects around the house.

Parents will also appreciate the sweet way in which Young pokes fun at all the dads out there who've found themselves feeling overwhelmed when they stepped into Mom's shoes.

Rather than mocking them, Young uses Zoomer's antics as a platform to show how patient dads can be, and in doing so, turns them into heroes for making the best of situations and not giving up.

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