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K-Gr 2—Having a severely allergic father means that Harry's dreams of owning a dog are going nowhere, so he snaps on his X-35 Infra-Rocket Imagination Helmet and produces a furry imaginary friend he names Waffle. The pair is inseparable and, like most imaginary friends, is accepted by the adults and regarded skeptically by playmates. When his dad changes jobs, moving from a pepper factory to one that makes Ping-Pong balls, his allergies disappear, and he buys Harry a live dog, Bumper, as a birthday surprise. When the real dog can't see the imaginary pooch, Harry places him under the helmet for a few minutes and the three friends happily cavort out the door. At the end of their play and the book, the dream dog leaps up into the sky and out of the story while Harry bonds with his new pet. Catrow's signature loose-limbed, full-color gouache, pencil-and-ink art sprawls across the pages with detailed exaggeration. The story includes threads about Harry's father's jobs, the boy's first lizard pet, his friend Mathilda, and many adventures with his dream dog. The length of this tale, the fairly complex plot, and text that meanders leisurely suggests a school-age audience. However, Harry looks and often acts like a preschooler, which could make determining the right audience for the book difficult. Still, libraries looking for stories to help ease older children away from imaginary friends may want to consider this title.—Marge Loch-Wouters, La Crosse Public Library, WI --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Harry wants a dog so much that, one day, he pops his X-35 Infra-Rocket Imagination Helmet on and dreams up a giant, gallivanting blue dog named Waffle. Harry has such a great time with his new friend that he is barely troubled by the fact that no one else can see the big blue fellow. Before long, Harry’s dad turns up with a real dog, who wants nothing more than to be Harry’s best pal. It’s here that Berger (onetime head writer of Sesame Street) moves seamlessly from good-humored setup to touching and thoughtful wrap-up, as Harry puts the X-35 helmet on his new dog and all three friends spend a day playing out in the fields before Waffle races off happily after a cloud . . . and disappears. Catrow’s distinctively idiosyncratic character art and Seuss-inspired imaginary dog lend both visual depth and a joyful lightness to Berger’s story, which taps into the longing and imagination of youth and captures the incomparable bond between a child and a dog. Grades K-3. --Jesse Karp --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.See all Editorial Reviews