Spike: Ugliest Dog in the Universe (with audio recording)by Debra Frasier
When Spike, the winner of the Ugliest Dog in the Universe contest, is abandoned by his owner, Joe, the boy next door, is determined—against all odds—to adopt him. Things look grim until Spike foils a neighborhood catnapping plan—and
Can an ugly dog with a heart of gold find a home? A warm and clever picture book for animal lovers of any breed.
When Spike, the winner of the Ugliest Dog in the Universe contest, is abandoned by his owner, Joe, the boy next door, is determined—against all odds—to adopt him. Things look grim until Spike foils a neighborhood catnapping plan—and saves the day!
K-Gr 2—After winning an "Ugliest Dog in the Universe" contest, Spike is abandoned by his owner, due to his owner's cat-loving girlfriend. The friendly canine finds temporary shelter with Joe, the boy next door, but they must try to convince Joe's mom to let him stay. Desperate to avoid the pound, Spike seeks advice on how to be beautiful from an award-winning cat, Evangeline. Later, in a weird twist, he ends up saving her from being catnapped, becoming a hero. Ending with a two-page essay by Joe on "How I Draw Dogs," the story feels overcomplicated and convoluted. Characters are crafted from fabric and paper with mixed results. Spike definitely looks ugly and fits well into the story, and Evangeline is beautifully created from an old dress. However, the other characters don't look as well constructed as those in Frasier's earlier, breathtaking works. The background is made from torn old jeans, and although the artist uses them creatively, it's questionable whether they add anything to the piece. In the end, the subject matter will appeal to some readers, but there are many other dog books with better illustrations and more-developed stories.—Peter Blenski, Greenfield Public Library, WI
Using secondhand denim both for a canvas and for collaged elements, Frasier (A Fabulous Fair Alphabet) tells the happy-sad story of a sensitive canine soul. As if it isn’t bad enough that Spike wins an “Ugliest Dog in the Universe” contest (“A dog can’t help the way he looks. Get to know me! I’m good-hearted. Loyal. Smart”), he is then abandoned by his jerk of an owner. His journey from potential animal shelter inmate to hometown hero (he foils a cat-napping) and member of a loving home isn’t the smoothest; Frasier is a talky writer with a fondness for exclamation points and asides. But she’s also an undeniably inventive artist who uses her raw material in unexpected ways—turning multiple waistbands into a frame, making the jeans’ double stitching serve as steps on a porch, and playing with rips and frays to convey a sense of inner beauty exposed. And Spike himself is very much like a pair of well-worn, much-loved jeans. Not conventionally pretty? Sure. Steadfast and comforting? Absolutely. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)
Spike, an abandoned "Ugliest Dog in the Universe"–contest winner, finds love and a new home in this heartwarming tale about beauty--and its many permutations. Verbally abused and cast away, Spike's resilience and optimism remain--largely due to Joe, the kind boy from next door. First-person narration makes the dog all the more endearing: "If you could see inside my heart, you'd say...beautiful." Joe's mom, while sympathetic, says they can't afford a dog, so Spike works hard to charm her. With an earnest sincerity, he explains his efforts to become more appealing. It's only when Spike spoils a catnapping scheme and Joe is paid for a published drawing of Spike that the dog and boy are finally united. Frasier's exceptional artwork and text will have readers rooting for the lovable Spike. Using found materials, she creates ingenious collages that act as metaphors, revealing beauty in what once appeared useless and worn-out. Blue jeans tell Spike's story, hard-working and durable; they also connect him to Joe and his mom, who both wear the fabric. Evangeline, the award-winning cat, is surrounded by silk and lace. Seamlessly integrated design enhances both emotional and comedic beats, as the author reveals beauty in its myriad forms. Brilliant. (Picture book. 4-8)
Meet the Author
Debra Frasier has written and illustrated many acclaimed picture books, including Spike; A Fabulous Fair Alphabet; Miss Alaineus: A Vocabulary Disaster; and the beloved and bestselling On the Day You Were Born. She lives in Minnesota with her husband and frequently visits her home state of Florida.
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