Buddy and Earl Go to School

illus. by Carey Sookocheff. 32p. (Buddy and Earl). Groundwood. Aug. 2017. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781554989270.
PreS-Gr 2—When Meredith, Buddy's and Earl's child friend, decides it's time for the dog and hedgehog to go to school, they consider all the career possibilities that may open up for them. Earl wants to become a dentist, and Buddy imagines a whole host of future jobs, including becoming a fire hydrant, until he remembers what he does to them. Their passions dim when they discover that their fellow schoolmates, stuffed animals, ignore them completely and refuse to participate, and that school's a bit boring. When Meredith, their teacher, has to leave, Earl leads his own lesson in which Buddy gets to practice what he's really good at, sniffing and tail-chasing. The digitized illustrations, with their clear black lines and solid blocks of color, will help readers of all ages follow along, and Fergus's wry jocular tone invites young readers in on the jokes that go right over the animal's heads. This latest adventure of the two mismatched friends may please their fans, but it's difficult to see what the two friends really learn about friendship, teaching, or learning, and so the conclusion falls flat. Nevertheless, it's likely that the lack of a consistent theme or plot won't make a difference for true lovers of the series.
VERDICT The jokes and familiar characters may keep young readers giggling, but parents and teachers won't find much here for discussion.

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