Thursday, November 8, 2012

Easy Reader Radar: Tugg and Teeny That's What Friends Are For by J. Patrick Lewis (Cybils Nominee)

Tugg and Teeny That’s What Friends Are For. by J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Christopher Denise. January 3, 2012. Sleeping Bear Press. 37 pages. ISBN: 9781585366873

Tugg and Teeny live in the jungle, where friends like Margie Barge (a hippopotamus) and Rocko Rhino (a rhinoceros) rely on them to help solve their problems. With kindness and good humor, the two friends help Margie gain confidence in her appearance, help Rocko find his missing horn, and organize a potluck for Good Neighbor Day.

I enjoy J. Patrick Lewis’s poetry, and every time I read a Tugg and Teeny book, it surprises me how different his prose is from his poems. There is nothing really wrong with the way he writes prose, but these stories are not as memorable or as quotable as his poems in books like Please Bury Me in the Library and Spot the Plot. In this particular book, I was puzzled by the storyline about the hippo who feels fat until a male hippo notices her (do kids really relate to that?), and disappointed by the predictable story wherein the rhino can’t find his nose because he’s sitting on it (I knew where it was right away.) I also cringed every time Tugg referred to Teeny as “Monkeyface.”

This book promotes good citizenship, which will please parents and teachers, but it feels like it’s missing the magic that makes other series about other pairs of best friends so enjoyable. There are attempts at humor, but they feel forced, and I don’t feel as though I really understand the dynamic between the two friends because they’re always interacting with secondary characters instead of just with each other. For me, this book was really just okay, and it doesn’t bother me that my library doesn’t purchase this series.

I borrowed Tugg and Teeny That's What Friends Are For from my local public library. 

For more about this book, visit Goodreads and Worldcat.

NOTE: This book was nominated by Sara Bryce for the 2012 Cybils Awards in the Easy Reader/Early Chapter Book category. I am a first-round panelist in this category, but this review reflects my opinions only, not those of any other panelist, or the panel as a whole. Thanks! 

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