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BONAPARTE by Marsha Wilson Chall


by Marsha Wilson Chall & illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin

Age Range: 6 - 9

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-7894-2617-X
Publisher: DK Publishing

Language purists may wince, but everyone else will applaud this Gallic tale of boy and dog separated, then reunited. “NO DOGS ALLOWED” reads the sign outside La School d’Excellence, and so young Jean Claude Jean is forced to leave his faithful Bonaparte back at the chateau. Bonaparte has other ideas, trying again and again to outwit the school’s rather nearsighted overseers. But when a last disguise finally works, Jean Claude is gone. Undismayed, Bonaparte offers his tracking services to the panicked trustees. Never one to leave a page unfilled, Halperin expands the short text considerably, fitting sequential scenes, views of Bonaparte searching city streets, thumbnail portraits and, for good measure, the occasional row of dogs or pastries, all within a series of patterned borders. Busy? Yes. Jumbled? Not at all. Because it’s drawn with vanishingly fine, but clear lines and exquisitely controlled color, every tiny detail in the harmonious illustrations is distinct, waiting to be picked out by fascinated viewers. In the end, Bonaparte tracks down his wayward boy, and the grateful trustees add a “W” to the “NO” on their sign—prompting a wave of new canine admissions. A chien sans peur is Bonaparte, coupling engagingly doggy devotion with rare ingenuity. (Picture book. 6-9)