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Dog Blue Hardcover – July 22, 2004
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From School Library Journal
PreSchool-K–Bertie wants a blue dog, so he pretends that he has one. He throws a stick, but as pretend dogs don't fetch, he goes after it himself. When a tiny black-and-white, spotted dog suddenly appears on the scene, he is perfect except for his coloring. So Bertie decides to give him something blue–the name "Blue." The two are a perfect pair, except that Bertie still fetches his own sticks. The pencil-and-watercolor cartoon drawings are simple enough to appeal to preschoolers, but the monochromatic colors (pale blue and yellow) are not especially eye-catching. With limited audience appeal, this is a supplemental purchase at best.–Janet M. Bair, Trumbull Library, CT
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
PreS-K. Most kid-wants-dog tales involve at least one antipet parent; in this version, adults are left out of the picture entirely. In fact, the author-illustrator of Flyaway Katie [BKL Je 1 & 15 04] leaves most things out of the picture, at least compositionally: there are never more than two or three elements set against the pastel-washed backgrounds. The story line is correspondingly simple. Bertie is a tousled little boy who wishes for a dog in his favorite color (blue). No such luck, so Bertie pretends to be a blue dog instead, cheerfully scampering about on all fours--until a spotted pup arrives on the scene, not blue but perfect all the same. Dunbar makes clever use of page turns, unfolding the story in pithy, alliterative prose: "Blue really loves Bertie. Bertie really loves Blue." In the end, the wish fulfillment is gratifying, but it's Bertie's ingenious self-sufficiency that truly resonates. Jennifer Mattson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top customer reviews
For children from two to five.
As nimble and imaginative a toddler as you'll meet, Bertie walks and feeds his dog, and "he threw a stick for his pretend blue dog. But pretend dogs don't fetch sticks. So Bertie fetched the stick himself." He also scratches, sniffs, and chases his tail as a blue dog would. Polly Dunbar's soft illustrations make Bertie seem talented and sweet, rather than foolish. His rosy cheeks and sheer joy at "being the dog" expresses the simple joy of playing-at-something.
Bertie's physical and imaginative activity is interrupted by reality: An actual dog that needs an "owner." Bertie, who tends to think in absolutes, slightly recoils and cries when he realizes that the "perfect" dog is not blue. Dunbar's background turns from an innocent, happy yellow to a thoughtful, grey-blue, full of shadowy doubt and complexity. Bertie, in a stroke of simple genius, makes the dog blue, by making the dog.... "Blue!"
Bertie and Blue, now on yellow-backed pages, make a "perfect pair!" Bertie learned to expand his schema of the "perfect dog" to accommodate non-blue dogs named "Blue," and Blue, just happy to have the love of a boy like Bertie, accommodates the latter's play idea. "Bertie took Blue for a walk. Blue took Bertie for a walk. Bertie fed Blue. Blue sniffed Bertie... Blue really loves Bertie. Bertie really loves Blue. Especially when... [next page]
it's Bertie's turn to fetch."
There is such a feeling of freely given love in this book that it takes a few reading to appreciate it. Bertie's conditional love, common to toddlers and adults alike, turns unconditional when he accepts the dog. The dog will never be blue, just as kids and adults may never meet their idealized companion. Yet, Bertie opens his heart to the dog, and in his eyes, he is as true a blue as he could hope to find." If this were the days of "Jonathan Livingston Seagull," the book would be a potential best seller for adults. The book makes no such claims or pretensions. It's a humorous, clever, and warm illustration of love for toddlers, and it's perhaps a parable for adults, all in the form of a simply told and simply illustrated kids' book.
Bertie fantasizes about his imaginary blue dog to great effect in the simple but articulate illustrations. When our protagonist is confronted with a real life four-legged friend, he is faced with a choice: be disappointed in reality, reject an opportunity, or adjust his expectations. Bertie's reaction is portrayed with humor and sensitivity by Polly Dunbar.
A winner for kids 2-8 years old.
Act II reveals Bertie to be the lucky recipient of a real dog. Yet he almost sinks into depression--sobbing into his hands and subsequently curling up into the fetal position--when it turns out to be a beautiful, spotted, black and white (but not BLUE) dog.
Thankfully, a sudden inspiration allows the dog to be BLUE in name if nothing else, and everyone lived happily ever after. Too little, too late.