DOUG'S DUNG by Jo Rooks


From the "Once Upon a Garden" series
by ; illustrated by
Age Range: 3 - 6
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A budding artist searches for his strength.

Doug the brown dung beetle appreciates nature. The other dung beetles say he needs to be “strong” and have “power.” They take turns lifting a brown dumbbell. When Doug tries, he can’t lift it, and the others tease him. Belinda the butterfly encourages Doug, reassuring him that he’s “strong in another way.” Petals floating on the breeze give Doug an idea. He covers a large ball of dung in an intricate petal mosaic. For another work of dung art, he uses a heap of bright yellow pollen. He continues to make unique art out of the brown spheres, building a little gallery to display his work. At first, he’s still met with jeers, but he stays “determined” to do this thing that makes him happy. Eventually, the whole garden comes to appreciate his art, and the other dung beetles even make a sculpture to celebrate Doug and ask for lessons on creativity. The text avoids any crass poop jokes, not even defining “dung.” Key message words (“determination,” “resilience,” etc.) appear repeatedly in boldface within the modest text, making the moral clear. The minimalist art gets its job done effectively. Predominant visual symmetry from page to page (the characters always face forward) makes for easy sight recognition for young readers. The large-eyed insects composed of simple shapes appear friendly while the earth-toned dung beetles cheerfully complement the brights of the garden—and thus Doug’s art as well.

Encouraging and judgement-free. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 21st, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-4338-3237-6
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Magination/American Psychological Association
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2020


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