Following in the hoofprints of Chlorinda and Dumpy LaRue, Charlie the guinea pig trades in domesticity for stardom in this high-energy variation on a shopworn theme. Sophie is stunned to find Charlie's cage empty: in Brunkus's (illustrator of the Junie B. Jones books) characteristically emphatic rendition, the girl's eyes pop, a bowl drops from one hand and the guinea pig's food sprays forth from the box she holds in the other. As Sophie's family begins a search party, the visual gags are stock: a mother in curlers, gravity-defying braids for the little sister, both characters shouting with their mouths open so wide that their eyes close. Eventually they discover a scrawled note ("Off to the coast...") and an illuminating article on the newspaper that lines his cage ("Pigs Big in Hollywood"). From there Blumenthal (Don't Let the Peas Touch!) cuts to Charlie's trip to Hollywood, where he instantly wins a leading role and huge popularity. Almost as quickly, he realizes that celebrity feels hollow, and he quietly returns to Sophie. Brunkus gamely ratchets up the camp-Charlie's co-star is a pouty Louise Brooks type with a boa, Charlie's movie-star get-up includes a flowing purple cape and cravat, etc.-but the story doesn't deliver the sparkle of the gold-foil accents on the jacket. Ages 3-8. (Mar.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1- When a shocked Sophie finds that Charlie, her guinea pig, has escaped from his cage, she's unaware that the errant rodent has decided to make his fame and fortune in Hollywood. He flies cross-country first class, gets a part in a movie, and begins to lead the glamorous life of a star. Before long, though, he realizes that the glitz isn't for him and, homesick, he returns to his family. In this classic tale of the allure of bright lights, the sassy little rodent has chutzpah to spare. The candy-colored illustrations are lighthearted and have a sure, "stop action" frenzy; funny bits are woven into each spread, featuring the diminutive guinea pig amid the over-the-top splendor of a star's world. Adults may appreciate the situation and corny climax far more than children. Still, Charlie's insouciance may draw youngsters to this slight tale.-Marge Loch-Wouters, Menasha Public Library, WI Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.