Industrious dog meets charming mouse! Angry duckling falls from sky! Friendship ensues! And isn’t it great that they’ll all be together again tomorrow and probably for more overly exclamatory sequels?
Ruff is a small, cheerful canine who lives alone in a cozy, caravan-style house in a big yard. While digging a new pond, he inadvertently destroys the home of Hubble the mouse. Ruff kindly builds Hubble a tiny shed next to his own home and offers his new pond as a home for Lottie, a duckling who couldn’t keep up with the older ducks as they migrated. Large-format illustrations are peppy and pleasing to the eye, with amusing animal characters and a collage style that incorporates patterned papers and cut-out leaves and flowers. The story unfolds in a breathless, wordy style, with too many jolly phrases and exclamation marks, and the camaraderie between the new friends feels forced rather than natural. The characters are sweet, the plot adequate if unexceptional, and the illustrations appealing. It’s the chatty, patronizing tone of the text that is the stumbling block that will make Ruff! a rough sell for repeated readings.
Poor Ruff. Busy? Yes. Wonderfully amazing? No. (Picture book. 3-6)