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by Glenn McCoy & illustrated by Glenn McCoy

Age Range: 4 - 7

Pub Date: April 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-7868-0661-3
Publisher: Hyperion

The object of McCoy’s barbed humor is a bit moldy by this date, but his wiry hero and addled heroine make this worth one last go-round. Penny Lee is a TV junkie of the worst sort. Her dog, Mr. Barkley, on the other hand, would like to see the set implode. So when the day comes that the TV stops working, Mr. Barkley suggests that they bring it to the repair shop. Of course, he’s got other plans for Penny Lee—like, a visit to the real world and its many pleasures. On the way to the repair shop, they jump rope (using the cord of the TV), play hide-and-seek, fly a kite, and go for a swim in the pond. Penny Lee is conscious of flutters that tell her she is missing some prime TV—any TV, that is—but less so as the day progresses. And by nightfall, when she flops into bed, having missed the repair shop’s business hours, she is looking forward to the trip tomorrow. Same as it ever was—any story that will alert kids to the insidious nature of TV is worth a try (though there is a weird little plug at the end in which Mr. Barkley finds he just has to watch a late movie and replaces the batteries for the remote). In this case it is Mr. Barkley that makes it worthy, his eyes asquint and brimming with deception, craftily leading Penny Lee from a life of eyestrain and brain-washing. But it is McCoy’s art that really pushes this to the top. Cartoon figures of big noses, big ears, goofy shapes perfectly capture the foolishness. In one particularly funny scene, Mr. Barkley and Penny Lee stare at the cloud shapes and what do they see but bones and TV sets. Put it on your schedule—it could be good for a few minutes of prime-time reading. (Picture book. 4-7)