A bully learns a valuable lesson about how to treat his friends in this anthropomorphized dog tale of adventure on the water from debut author Sullivan.
Tebow the fawn boxer is eager to meet up with his other dog friends on Dog Bone Island, where the group always gathers for “Sunday Funday.” He takes his Jet Ski to the island’s marina, which is run by Oscar the owl, a bird who, in the illustrations, appears to be as large as Tebow. Oscar’s assistant is Parker the pelican, whose inner thoughts reveal personality traits of the other characters, despite Parker’s inability to remember any of their names. When the pups are all finally gathered, Tebow realizes that Caspar, his golden retriever friend, has been especially shy. The reason is soon clear: Hunter, a red golden retriever, is playing too roughly, knocking Caspar to the ground in a friendly game of Frisbee and holding him down in the sand until Caspar begs to be released. Hunter nips at the heels of two of their racing friends and parades around as though he’s top dog. Concerned, Tebow confronts Caspar about the problem. Caspar acknowledges that Hunter is bothering him but says, “Maybe Hunter just needs a hug.” Not long after, Hunter needs more than a hug: ignoring posted warnings, he goes for a swim and gets caught in a riptide. Tebow races for his Jet Ski to rescue him, but Caspar doesn’t want to risk waiting for the vehicle. He swims to Hunter to assist him until their rescuers arrive. Parents will appreciate the book’s message about caring for friends even when they’re not on their best behavior. But the small type and chunky blocks of text may be daunting for young readers. The canine cast, rendered in colorful, cartoonish illustrations by Prato (The Sensational Letter “S”, 2016, etc.), walk upright, which makes them seem stiff and less doglike. Additionally, Caspar’s heroism glosses the danger of riptides.
While reaching out to save a friend in trouble—even a bully—is an act of heroism, kids, don’t try this at home!