From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 2-Mr. Morf, a circus dog who has been tightrope walking since puppyhood, suddenly grows sick with loneliness, packs up his bone-shaped traveling case, and sets off to find someone to love. Sadly, everyone he encounters seems somehow unsuitable, from a migrating swallow to a bonneted wolf. Brokenhearted, Mr. Morf returns to the circus alone, only to find himself suddenly struck by a bad case of the tickly giggles, the source of which turns out to be the lovely Isabella, a sweet little flea who agrees to become Mr. Morf's true and lasting friend. It is the delightfully offbeat acrylic-and-pastel illustrations that distinguish this picture book, a combination of whimsical animals, pleasing patterns, delicate lines, and eccentric angles. The pages are not large enough to contain the lively antics of piggy-faced Mr. Morf and his colorful cohorts who juggle and balance and fly about under the Big Top. By contrast, Mr. Morf's journey leads him through some very lonely terrain, where large empty spaces convey the fruitlessness of his search. The art far outshines the text, which reaches for whimsy but seems weighed down with wordy earnestness and a rather abrupt ending. Still, there is something to love about Mr. Morf, not the least of which is his belief in the possibility of finding a true friend.Teri Markson, Stephen S. Wise Temple Elementary School, Los Angeles
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
PreS-Gr. 2. Mr. Morf isn't just a dog; he's also a circus performer who, in his star-bellied leotard and matching hood, cuts quite a figure on the tightrope. Circus life is exciting, but something is missing. "I'm sick with loneliness. I need someone to love," he says, and he sets off into the world to make friends. He meets various animals, but none is compatible. Defeated, he finally returns to the circus, but on his travels, he's picked up a flea who becomes the friend he's been looking for all along. Using layers of saturated color, lively patterns, and whimsical details (Mr. Morf's bone-shaped suitcase, for example), Belgian writer and illustrator Cneut paints a nostalgic, animal-filled world in intriguing, sometimes skewed, angles that heighten the story's emotional tone. Told in brief, simple language, Cneut's narrative has an oddly melancholy flavor to it, but many children will still easily connect with Mr. Morf's loneliness and longing for friends, and they will be captivated by his high-wire circus world. Gillian EngbergCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved