March 24, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Pick of the Day: Chowder (DVD)

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Peter Brown's Chowder DVDChowder. DVD. 12 min. with tchr’s. guide. Nutmeg Media. 2012. ISBN 1-933938-91-9. $49.95.
Gr 1-3–Viewers learn from the get-go that “Chowder had always been different.” Still, youngsters will be tickled to see the pudgy brown pooch perched on the toilet in the opening scene. His owners, the Wubbingtons, are devoted to their beloved bulldog and treat him like a member of the family, but the pampered pup can’t seem to make it in the dog world. He tries to fit in, but word on the canine street is that he’s just plain weird. Normal dogs eat bones rather than use them to reconstruct dinosaur skeletons. Normal dogs don’t wear hats or sunglasses or ride in back carriers or on coin-operated horsey rides. And normal dogs play with squeak toys, not computers. Determined to make friends, Chowder sees an ad for a new petting zoo at his family’s supermarket and engineers a visit by eating everything in the fridge. Though he gets off to a rough start, he redeems himself and finally befriends a motley crew of farm animals. Peter Brown’s endearing bulldog, rendered lovingly in acrylic-and pencil in the picture book (Little, Brown, 2006), is even more appealing in this iconographic production. The bouncy, rhythmic background music and sympathetic narrator make this slightly sophisticated tale more accessible. A conversation with Brown explains how he got the idea for the story as well as how he decided to write and illustrate children’s books. Use with units on dogs, making friends, and being yourself.–Barbara Auerbach, New York City Public Schools