The Great Fuzz Frenzyby Janet Stevens, Susan Stevens Crummel
When a fuzzy tennis ball lands in a prairie-dog town, the prairie dogs discover that their newfound frenzy for fuzz creates no end of trouble.
Publishers WeeklyThe Stevens sisters (Cook-a-Doodle-Doo) prove that there's a lot of mileage to be gained from a wacky premise and some roly-poly prairie dogs. When Violet the pooch accidentally drops a tennis ball into a prairie-dog town, the rodents discover the malleable properties of the ball's light green fuzz and go wild: "They fuzzed their ears, their heads, their noses." In her full-bleed spreads (sometimes extending into a gatefold to play up the depth of the tunnels), Stevens likens the furry crowd to kids playing dress-up. The prairie dogs fashion Mohawks, tutus, superhero outfits and big fuzzy slippers from the stuff. Only one prairie dog seems immune: Big Bark, a blowhard with a bottle-cap hat. But Big Bark's disdain is just a front; when the other prairie dogs collapse from exhaustion ("Fuzzled out"), he steals all the fuzz-and turns himself into a blob of green that catches the eye of a prey-seeking eagle (in a bravura spread, its mass of black feathers morphs into a maelstrom of menace). Not surprisingly, the prairie dogs put aside their fuzz-based differences, and Big Bark finds a useful purpose for his belligerence. Stevens's watercolors make heroes of these curious critters. She plunges readers into an animated, earthy underworld, endows her furry cast with winning goofiness and turns the winged symbol of America into a figure of fear. Ages 3-7. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's LiteratureViolet, a playful dog, drops a fuzzy green tennis ball all the way down a tunnel into a group of puzzled prairie dogs. When little Pip Squeak bravely pokes the ball and puts some of the green fuzz on his head, the others begin to grab fuzz to use for all kinds of fantastic self-decoration. As the news spreads, prairie dogs from all around come to join the "fuzz frenzy," "fuzz fiesta," "fuzz fandango." When all the fuzz is picked off the ball, a furious fight follows. Then the fuzz is taken away by bossy Big Bark; he, in turn, is snatched up by an eagle. The other prairie dogs manage to rescue him and swear off the troublesome fuzz in the future. But their troubles may not be over. On the back end-papers Violet hovers over a tunnelas she did in the frontthis time with a red tennis ball in her mouth. Just as the text enjoys playing with language, Stevens has fun creating madcap themes and variations in mixed media as she portrays the many ways the prairie dogs make use of the green stuff. There is a triple open-up spread to be held sideways as we follow the ball all the way down to the bottom of the tunnel. Bold white letters against the brown earth announce the excitement. A comic romp for all to enjoy. 2005, Harcourt, Ages 3 to 7.
Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library JournalPreS-Gr 2-It all begins innocently enough, when Violet the dog drops a fuzzy green tennis ball down a prairie-dog hole on the title page. When it finally lands deep in the underground tunnels, dozens of little dogs are gazing at it with trepidation. The biggest prairie dog of all, the bully Big Bark, comes to take a look, but before he can get close enough, Pip Squeak runs up to the ball and exclaims, "`It's fuzzy!'" "`Oooooooh!'" gasped the other dogs. Soon, they all begin adorning themselves with pieces of lime-green fuzz, ignoring Big Bark's commands that they stop this foolishness. Prairie dogs come from all over to help themselves until the ball is plucked bare. War breaks out, leaving Pip Squeak feeling rather guilty for starting it all. While the embattled dogs collapse in exhaustion, Big Bark steals all of the fuzz, proclaiming himself "king of the fuzz," which makes him an easy target for an eagle, who swoops down and grabs him. Pip Squeak rallies the others to come to Big Bark's aid. The marvelously rendered mixed-media illustrations, with vivid blues, earthy browns, and that luminescent green, capture the true fuzzy nature and greenish glow of the ball. As in the author's popular Tops and Bottoms (Harcourt, 1995), this book employs both horizontal and vertical spreads, effectively taking readers deep into the underground realm. A wonderful addition for storyhours, this title will be requested again and again.-Lisa Gangemi Kropp, Middle Country Public Library, Centereach, NY Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus ReviewsWhat would happen if a dog of the canine persuasion were to drop a green tennis ball down a prairie dogs' burrow? Why, the prairies would pick it apart, fashion all sorts of finery out of its fuzz and then get territorial about it when neighboring prairie dogs demanded their share. It's inevitable that a frenzy would ensue. After rescuing one of their own from an eagle's clutches, the prairies in this story finally realize that fuzz just isn't worth it. But along comes Violet the mutt again, this time with a red tennis ball, and then. . . . The energetic art and layout are the real standouts in this cute yet thin story. The dogs-both of the canis and burrow varieties-are expressive and hilarious, and readers can open up double-paged spreads and occasionally turn the volume vertically, a Stevens trademark. Dramatic font changes and words like Swoop! and Boink! add to the read-aloud fun. (Picture book. 3-7)
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