Once children can recognize and read the title, they will easily be able to navigate the rest of this book. “Dude!” is (almost) the only word uttered throughout the story.
Sometimes it is printed in large capital letters, sometimes in diminutive lowercase. The word may be surrounded by a jagged speech bubble, stretched out with five U’s, spoken by one or many, or decorated with sprinkles, but part of the fun of this picture book with graphic-novel overtones is interpreting the proper intonation from the context. A platypus and a beaver are the first two friends to call out to each other as they race to the beach, surfboards at the ready. After an encounter with sea-gull droppings (heralded with one of the few additional words: “SPLAT!”), a shark is spotted. It is cajoled with ice cream, so the nervous duo’s chorus is soon voiced by an exultant trio. Santat varies the page design to pace the over-the-top emotions and action, employing diagonally framed panels, cameos, small insets, and full-bleed double-page spreads. Disaster occurs at the rocks, and if observant readers hadn’t noticed the warning sign at the story’s opening, subsequent readings will reveal this foreshadowing and other clever details. The three dudes resolve the damage, ultimately sharing a sweet denouement under the sunset.
Surprises, mayhem, potty humor, sharks, and ice cream: What’s not to like? (Picture book. 4-6)