Stevenson once again demonstrates his impressive gifts for imbuing animal characters with abundant personality. His watercolor illustrations are precisely attuned to novelist and New Yorker veteran Maxwell's fond tale of Bun, a dog who hangs out on "a musty old piece of carpet'' in the back hall of the Donalds' home. When this elderly couple moves to a new house, Bun is delighted to discover an abandoned playhouse in the backyard. Maxwell seamlessly (and quite comically) transforms Bun from reasonably realistic pet to industrious home owner-the dog climbs a ladder to repair the roof and paints the shutters, trim and porch floor. In no time, Bun plays host to a pushy bunch of neighborhood dogs (one, an opinionated poodle, suggests he add a rumpus room). Before long the dogs take over his precious space, while Bun retires to a hard bench on the lawn. The put-upon pet finally posts a "To Let" sign and takes refuge in the big house... on his familiar piece of carpet. Text-filled pages with sophisticated sentences make this a better choice for reading aloud than reading alone. With ample help from Stevenson, Maxwell warmly delivers a comforting message-that one can go home again. Ages 4-8. (Aug.)
School Library Journal
Gr 1-3This pairing of a rather sophisticated story with classic Stevenson illustrations results in a real winner. Bun, owned by Dr. and Mrs. Donald, tells his tale in long, rather complex run-on sentences that seem to mimic his thoughts. He says that being ``...partly Boston bull, partly sheepdog, and partly Labrador retriever'' has made him ``...very sensitive to remarks about his appearance.'' Nevertheless, he enjoys his home and owners, but is allowed to sleep only on ``...a musty old piece of carpet in the back hall.'' When the family moves, he discovers an abandoned play house in the backyard and renovates it. Promptly, all the neighborhood dogs appear. Some, like the French poodle, are snooty and pushy, but, like Mrs. Donald, Bun remains hospitable. Soon he's pushed out of his own overcrowded home. He solves the problem by putting the house up for rent, moving in with the Donalds, and finding his old piece of carpet waiting in the back hall. The subdued ink-and-watercolor illustrations contrast with the complicated language, but nevertheless carry the text along effectively. The book is best enjoyed independently, as the colors wash out in a large group setting. Team it with Jackie French Koller's Mole & Shrew (Atheneum, 1991; o.p.), another story about invasive visitors.Christina Dorr, Calcium Primary School, NY
There's no place like home. That's what the pooch Bun discovers after setting himself up in the Donalds' backyard playhouse and discovering independence isn't all it's cracked up to be. Maxwell tells the story with dry humor and cool detachment, and Stevenson's watercolor-and-ink illustrations give Bun a decidedly canine aspect despite his decidedly human deportment. This doesn't have the sure charm of Taxi Dog's adventures, nor is it as delightfully goofy as Amos on his flying couch, but children who like their stories long and leisurely and love canines will, perhaps, find a new friend in Bun.