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Widget School & Library Binding – August 8, 2001

30 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this when-in-Rome story, a stray dog alters his canine ways to appease half-a-dozen grouchy cats. Widget, a scruffy Westie, wanders into a farmhouse where he finds "six cats, six warm beds, and six bowls of hot food." The well-fed cats glare at him. "I wish you could stay," says the grandmotherly caretaker, Mrs. Diggs. "But I'm afraid the girls just can't stand dogs." Widget utters a hopeful "Meow?" Thereafter, he adopts feline ways, until the inevitable emergency ("Mrs. Diggs... fell down. She didn't move") compels him to bark and save the day. The McFarlands, who imagined a teddy bear mimicking a bird in The Pirate's Parrot, once again depict an adaptable outsider. Widget's name aptly suggests an unspecific, versatile object. In Jim McFarland's pen-and-ink and watercolor wash illustrations, the ingratiating dog appears the same size as his adoptive sisters, with pointed ears and a scruffy, upraised tail; he even casts a cat-shaped shadow. This story line offers no surprises, but it gives a fond account of cross-species conciliation, and, at their best, the pictures of the hero attempting to adapt to his housemates' behavior hint at the sly wit of James Stevenson's artwork. Ages 3-6.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

reS-Widget is a stray dog-homeless, cold, wet, and hungry. He finds his way to a warm, cozy home but then has to exercise all his ingenuity to convince the six female felines in residence to accept him. With a light and humorous touch, text and illustrations charm readers as Widget charms the cats by pretending to be one of them. The funniest spreads are of Widget and "the girls" facing off all puffed up, then hissing and spitting. The pup quickly realizes that purring, playing, and even using the litter box is the ticket into this household. In the end, the cats accept him on his own terms-as a dog-since it is barking, not meowing, that saves the day after a mishap suffered by their human guardian, Mrs. Diggs. Illustrations, apparently watercolors, are detailed and realistic with cartoon touches that add to the humor, as when six pairs of cats' eyes are all turned toward Widget, whose own wide eyes are trained in turn on them. This is a preschool crowd pleaser, just right for storytime.

Dorian Chong, School of Library and Information Science, San Jose State University, CA

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 3 - 6 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 1
  • School & Library Binding: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR); 1st edition (September 5, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374384282
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374384289
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 0.4 x 9.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,848,616 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on June 3, 2004
Format: School & Library Binding
By my estimates, there are roughly one million "just be yourself" picture books available on the market today. These range from Madonna's uber-hokey "The English Roses" to older and far more adept books like Leo Lionni's classic, "Swimmy". In the case of "Widget", author Lyn Rossiter McFarland and her illustrating husband Jim McFarland have taken a slightly different route. By using a story in which being true to one's own self (apologies to W. Shakespeare) is not only desirable but also necessary, they have written a truly sweet story. Cat and dog lovers alike should be pleased.

Widget is a small white dog and if I knew my dogs better I could probably tell you his breed. Possibly a terrier. A stray, he finds warmth and shelter in the home of one Mrs. Diggs. Unfortunately, Mrs. Diggs (having not yet reached "crazy cat lady" status, but certainly on her way there) owns six finicky felines that don't like dogs at all. Noting their disapproval, Widget sets out to show one and all that he can be just as cat-like as any of them. If they meow, he meows. If they puff up and hiss, he puffs up and hisses. In fact, Widget is so complete in his cat-like activities that he even purrs, plays with toy mice, and (I'm sure many dog lovers would kill for their pets to learn this one) uses the litter box. Stunned, the cats accept him and Widget eventually forgets that he's a dog at all. One day, however, Mrs. Diggs has an accident and Widget comes to the unarguable decision that sometimes being a dog is a very useful thing indeed.

Anyone familiar with that old Disney cartoon about "Lambert, the Sheepish Lion", in which a lion tries to pretend to be a sheep and ends up saving the flock from a wolf? This isn't exactly that story, but it's pretty darn close.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By James W. Tinder on November 1, 2001
Format: School & Library Binding
The husband and wife writer and illustrator of "The Pirate's Parrot" team up again for a humorous tale of animals and adventure. Little Widget is a stray dog seeking shelter and food. He finds the home of Miss Diggs and her six cats. Miss Diggs wants him to stay, but the cats hate dogs. To gain acceptance of the cats, Widget acts like a cat, purring and using the litter box. The cats welcome him, but Widget must act like a dog again to find help when Miss Diggs falls ill. The cats are pleased when Widget brings people to help, and ultimately accept him as a dog.

Accented by flowing watercolors of multiple hues and shades, the line-drawn illustrations lend a sense of urgency and action to the story. Widget himself is given many expressions, from fear to fierceness to cuteness. Young children will delight in Widget's attempts at cathood, and the pace of the story will keep preschoolers enthralled at storytime. A winning tale with heart and character.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Etienne D' on November 19, 2002
Format: School & Library Binding
I noticed this book in the bookstore because "Widget" is my son's nickname. I picked it up, read it, laughed out loud, said "Widget is going to love this" and immediately purchased it. It ended up becoming one of my son's ... favorite books. It is a very charming and funny book for both children and adults. It is also a good book to introduce children to the concept of accepting differences and getting along with others. I read this book to the kids at my son's school and they were totally entertained by Widget's antics acting like a cat and trying to fit in.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By D. Blankenship HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on December 11, 2010
Format: Paperback
It has been some time that I was as delighted with a children's book as I was with this one. I am not sure how this one escaped my notice in the past, but I certainly made up for lost time once I found it.

I suppose I could relate to this book quite well as the little stray terrier that was looking for a home; dirty, cold, tired and hungry, quite resembles the one that showed up at our doorstep one cold winter evening about a year ago...he is still with us. This coupled with the fact that our next door neighbor, who lives on the other side of our orchard, is a true "cat lady," (By my last count there were 26 plus of the furry little creatures hanging around.

This is the story of a rather bright little dog. He is lost, hungry, cold and dirty; much like or Ivan (As in Ivan the Terrible), who stumbles upon a nice warm house with a special cat size door cut into the human door. Upon entering, he discovers warmth, food, coziness and six really hostile cats who do not like dogs, even little ones, one bit!

Now this dog is a thinker. He can tell right away that the six feline occupants must be won over, along with the person they own, the cat lady. So, the first words our of Gidget's (That is the dogs name), is "Meow." From there our scruffy little guy not only talks like a cat but acts like a cat in everyway, even down to displaying quite extraordinary mouser skills! Hey, a dogs gotta to what a dogs gotta to. He even wins over our kindly cat lady!

This little story hits you two ways. First, the story is truly cute. Any dog or cat lover will love it. The author has the personalities of these furry friends down pat. Secondly the art work in this one is absolutely delightful.
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