Background: I met Andrea Beaty at the Kidlitosphere conference in Chicago last fall, and have long been a reader of her blog (with two other writers), Three Silly Chicks. I have heard great things about her most recent picture book: Iggy Peck, Architect, though I must confess that I haven't had a chance to read it. When Andrea asked me if I would like an advance review copy of her upcoming picture book, Doctor Ted, I took one look at the cover, and jumped at the opportunity. And I must say that I am now completely in love with Doctor Ted.
Review: Doctor Ted, written by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by Pascal Lemaitre, is a delightful picture book about a resolute young bear who takes playing doctor seriously. After he bumps his knee one morning, Ted concludes that he needs a doctor. He looks around his room, but he can't find a doctor. So Ted decides to become a doctor. He dons a lab coast, stethoscope, and cap, and sets up a doctor's office in his room. Since not too many patients turn up in the room, however, he eventually branches out. He gleefully sizes up his fellow students in school (an array of different animals) as potential clients, and eventually plies his skills on his teacher and his principal. Sadly, however, his well-meant advice is not always well-received. But Ted persists, and eventually saves the day.
This book is laugh-out loud funny. Ted prescribes crutches for his teacher's "mumps" (which are really chubby cheeks), and a shot for his Principal's "bad breath". He also takes note of ailments like gingivitis and foot odor, and always has a solution to propose. Andrea Beaty's tone is perfect - not mocking Ted, but taking him seriously, in a 100% kid-friendly manner. For example, after a tough day at school: "That night he took two cookies and went straight to bed."
Complementing the humorous text, Pascal Lemaitre's digitally colored brush-and-ink illustrations are a joy. Some simple illustrations are full-page, such as a picture of Ted, standing proud after he first becomes a doctor. Other pages feature more detail, sometimes in a series of panels on the same page. These panels often convey action. The colors used throughout are lively and unexpected, such as a pink and purple hallway and breakfast table at Ted's house, and a teacher who is a purple cow in a red spotted dress. Amusing details often lurk in the background, like the posters on the wall of Ted's classroom.
My favorite picture is of Ted, lying dejected in bed, still in his doctor outfit. His little doctor bag is on the floor, next to a book with a skull and crossbones on the cover. At the foot of his bed is a lab chart, with a red graph pointing downwards, reflecting Ted's mood.
I don't know what more I can say. I love this book. Doctor Ted has heart and humor, and reflects the seriousness with which early elementary school children sometimes take their make-believe games. The illustrations are vibrant and engaging, and add considerably to the affection that I feel for Ted. The end of the book hints at further adventures, and I do hope that these adventures come to pass.
Doctor Ted won't be available for purchase until April, but I'll tell you what. Just go and order it now. You won't be disappointed. This one is a sure-fire hit for parents and kids alike. Highly, highly recommended.
© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.