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A Pet for Fly Guy: Tedd Arnold

Book: A Pet for Fly Guy
Author: Tedd Arnold
Pages: 32
Age Range: 4-8

I must confess that I have not read the books in the Fly Guy series of early readers, though I believe we have the first one around here somewhere. But I just read the first Fly Guy picture book, A Pet for Fly Guy, and I thought that it was fabulous. It's funny, and it's also warm without being cloying or message-y. And of course, Tedd Arnold's illustrations are a lot of fun.

The premise is introduced easily enough on the first page:

"A boy had a pet fly.
He named him --

Fly Guy was the smartest pet
in the world. He could say
the boy's name --

Here "FLY GUY" and "BUZZ" are shown as colorful text call-outs by the boy and the fly, respectively.

In the story that follows, Fly Guy and Buzz go on a picnic to the park. Upon witnessing lots of kids playing with their pets, Fly Guy becomes sad that he doesn't have a pet of his own. A search ensues, but finding the right pet for a fly is a bit tricky. Fortunately, a happy resolutions is found at the end.

A Pet for Fly Guy includes both subtle and overt humor. When Buzz and Fly Guy eat lunch together, we see Buzz eating a sandwich, while Fly Guy samples from an odorous trash can. The pets that the other kids bring to the park include a large fish in a tank (pulled along on a wagon) and a protective-suit-wearing kid playing with his porcupine. The possible pets considered include a frog, which chases Fly Guy and tries to eat him. 

This is one of those books in which the tight connection between text and illustrations is essential. Nothing needs to be said about the over-the-top pets belonging to the other kids - the pictures tell the story. Arnold's characters, animal and human, all have huge round eyes with tiny pupils, keeping the fly motif consistent. Fly Guy, though small, wears a range of expressions, through his expressions and posture. Arnold's digitally-generated art includes faint scribble-type markings in the background, lending an unusual texture to the brightly colored pages. 

Fly Guy's migration to the picture book format seems like a success to me! A Pet for Fly Guy is original, humorous, and kid-friendly. It's sure to be a hit, and will be a nice way to introduce new readers to the Fly Guy universe. 

Publisher: Orchard Books (@Scholastic
Publication Date: April 29, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

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