Monday, March 21, 2011

Say Hello to Zorro!

Written & illustrated by Carter Goodrich
$15.99, ages 4-8, 48 pages

Mister Bud the terrier had it good when it was just himself and his human.

But now his human has adopted a curly-tailed pug named Zorro and Mister Bud feels like he's losing control of how things work around home.

And who could blame him?

Until Zorro arrived, Mister Bud thought he was the center of everything.

He had a title of respect prefixed to his name, and what's more, he had his schedule and everyone stuck to it.

In this charming picture book, the lead character designer of Despicable Me explores what it's like to be an only pet -- to have things just the way you want them -- then have another pet thrust into your life and threaten to mess it all up.
Mister Bud was as happy as a dog could be when he didn't have share his human.

In the morning he'd plunk his snout down on his human's bed covers and goggle at her from behind a big wet nose (so she knew to wake up). And by night, he'd sprawl out on the couch with his head in her lap and one paw draped over her leg while she watched a movie.

But when Zorro showed up, a little spitfire who looked ready to stake his claim, Mister Bud felt like everything he'd counted on was suddenly up for grabs. The bristly hair on Mister Bud's back stood up and his eyes bore into Zorro whenever he passed by.

Over those first tense days, the two dogs snapped and growled at each other every chance they got, much to their human's chagrin: a feisty little Zorro trying to mark off territory and a distrustful Mister Bud trying to hold on to what he had.

And then one day, something unexpected happened that let the air out of all those puffed up displays: Mister Bud and Zorro discovered they had the very same schedule. Not only that, it was a lot of fun to share their routines with each other.

When it was time for a walk, they'd launch after a cat, dragging their person behind them, and when they greeted their person home, they'd make a bigger fuss than one dog can make, barking and leaping up on her as she strode through the door.

Now, things still aren't perfect -- Mister Bud can get grumpy when he wants a bone to himself and Zorro can be bossy about keeping his food dish to himself. But there's no one else these fellows would rather curl up with on a rug or wrestle with for the remote.

Anyone who dotes over their pooches will adore this empathetic tale, and will find the dogs' expressions and tussles on the carpet and couch hysterical.

My favorite: when the two are fighting over the remote and Zorro tries to pin down Mister Bud by sticking his spindly leg into Mister Bud's cave-like left nostril.

This one's a great choice to give a child who's just learned he has to share his room (or home) with someone else, especially if he's been accustomed to having it all to himself and isn't too keen on sharing it.

(Carter is also author of A Creature Was Stirring and The Hermet Crab, and has illustrated 16 New Yorker covers and designed characters for the movies Finding Nemo, Monsters, Inc., and Ratatouille.)

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