REVIEW: BUDDY & EARL, BY MAUREEN FERGUS & CAREY SOOKOCHEFF

Groundwood Logos SpineBuddy and Earl
Written by Maureen Fergus
Illustrated by Carey Sookocheff
Published by Groundwood


Since we kicked Kinderlit.ca off a few months ago we’ve read some truly great books: Pool, by JiHyeon Lee is stunning; Sara O’ Leary and Julie Morstad’s This is Sadie is achingly beautiful; we absolutely loved Elly MacKay’s Butterfly Park. And that’s barely scratching the surface, honestly.

With all of these wonderful, incredible, inspiring titles passing through our hands, it’s quite possible that the single most jubilant read we’ve had yet is Buddy and Earl. In terms of sheer genuine laughter and smiles, it’s in a class all its own, with a character in Earl that is so beyond lovable he ranks alongside (and in our house, anyway, eclipses) Ian Falconer’s Olivia and Mo Willem’s Pigeon.

There are three of us in our little family, and we all have our own unique voices for the characters, we all laughed out loud the first few times we read the book, and our joy has yet to abate. Hearing the name of the book spoken aloud, or seeing it sitting on a table or on the shelf elicits what can now only be described as a Pavlovian response: Big grin and a chuckle, every time. Opening the book to any random page brings a smile. On more than one night when putting our five year old to bed, just when we think she’sbuddy and earl spread 2 out, she’s gotten a little smile and said quietly “My favorite funniest part of Buddy and Earl is when Buddy tells Earl ‘I do not think you are a race car!'” And her most favorite funniest part is always something different.

Maureen Fergus’ text is subtle and hysterical, and she’s written Earl with such abandon, the reader just gets swept up in his antics and character. His single-mindedness is wonderful, and his sense of purpose is contagious. He’s a creation that deserves a series of books (luckily, more are coming!) as well as toys and a TV show.

For Carey Sookocheff’s part, she brings the characters to life with absolute perfection. The character designs across the board are marvelous, simple and engaging. Her muted palette is exactly what the story calls for, and her use of  slightly offset colour placement to mimic screen-printing is tasteful, and never feels gimmicky or unnecessary. I can’t say enough how much I love Sookocheff’s work; it’s not flashy, and while the phrase “deceptively simple” gets thrown around all too often when talking about illustration, here it is well-earned.

It’s difficult to imagine another author and illustrator being as in sync as Fergus and Sookocheff. There are at least two more Buddy and Earl books in the pipeline, and we can’t wait to see what’s next.

-J.H.


Kinderlit.ca requested and received a copy of Buddy and Earl in exchange for an honest review. Read about our review policy HERE.

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