Author Mike Hansen lives in Colorado where he has owned an investment firm, worked for United Airlines at the Denver International Airport, and has developed his love for children's book with his own little family. In this charmer of a book he is aided by the illustrations of Toby Mikle.
Rocky, the Oreo dog (black and white) and Leo the cat are best friends who play on opposing soccer teams (dogs vs cats), games around the farm, and in general enjoy life on the farm. The two encounter an announcement of a play called `Cowbells Are Ringing' and Rocky longs to be an actor in the play but has a fear of audiences. But when the main actor (Erik, a floppy eared dog) falls sick, the director of the play decides soccer star Rocky should take the lead. At first Rocky's fear of audiences prevents his accepting the part, but eventually he agrees and begins rehearing his lines. Some bully dogs call him a sissy for being an actor, but Leo convinces him to proceed. The play goes on, and despite some dogs in the audience hooting Rocky, the play and Rocky are a huge success. Even Rocky's enemies applaud his success and Rocky gets a big head, thinking himself better than others, and bragging about his success. That loses friends and no one wants to play with the swelled head Rocky. A little mouse named Michele discovers Rocky's depression about his loss of friends and explains it is due to his bragging. Rocky learns his lesson, apologizes to his friends and soccer mates, and all is well with Rocky, Leo, and Michelle the wise.
This is another well-told story by Mike Hansen who takes children's stories to a new level. It is a success as an entertaining story and as a book full of lessons about self-doubt, fear of crowds, the bad aspects of bragging, and more. Grady Harp, February 14