The Perfect Friend

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Every dog needs a best friend

Archie wants someone to play with – a friend who will throw a ball for him to catch. One morning his family leaves the house promising a surprise when they return. Archie is hopeful, but, remembering past surprises, he’s not overly optimistic, which is a good thing because they only bring home a baby named Max, who leads everyone to forget all about Archie. Poor Archie feels left out . . . that is, until little Max...

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Every dog needs a best friend

Archie wants someone to play with – a friend who will throw a ball for him to catch. One morning his family leaves the house promising a surprise when they return. Archie is hopeful, but, remembering past surprises, he’s not overly optimistic, which is a good thing because they only bring home a baby named Max, who leads everyone to forget all about Archie. Poor Archie feels left out . . . that is, until little Max becomes the perfect friend.

Hilarious, colorful, and richly imagined pictures provide a highly original twist on a classic theme in children’s literature.

Archie the dog is unsure about his role in the family when a new baby arrives.

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Editorial Reviews

From The Critics
What Archie the family dog wants is a friend to play ball with-a far cry from his owners' annoying new baby, "a wriggling, snuffling bundle" named Max. But babies eventually grow up, and one day Archie thrills to find a ball bouncing through the doorway, tossed to him by none other than "Max...the perfect friend." Older siblings will recognize their own dilemma in this nimbly told tale of how it feels to lose the position of top dog. Fanciful illustrations and outlandish plot twists (such as adults trying to appease the hound with chess games and puppet shows) make this a treat for parent and child alike. (ages 4 to 6)
Child magazine's Best Children's Book Awards 2005
Publishers Weekly
Romanova's entertaining debut story couches the time-tested theme of a new sibling in a tale of a dog in need of a friend. Kulikov (Morris the Artist) depicts Archie as a russet hound who walks upright on his hind legs, sporting a fetching turn-of-the-century overcoat and a Jack Benny soulful stare as he ruefully recalls the boring goldfish, turtle and rabbit his family gave him as a surprise in the past. A wry painting of "a very hungry rabbit who had no time to be Archie's friend" depicts the pooch as a bow-tied waiter serving it a head of cabbage. Both stylish and playful, the illustrations lend humor and sophistication to the economically told story. Kulikov skillfully plants clues to the family's newest surprise: the furry hero dips his paws in a too-small tub and holds up a tiny jacket ("nothing fit"). When the surprise is revealed, "a wriggling, snuffling bundle in a cradle," his life changes dramatically. The family neglects Archie, so he starts misbehaving, as chronicled in paintings that feature Archie peeing in a shoe and literally shrinking as he feels "smaller and smaller" in the presence of the moonfaced baby. But guess who grows up to be the perfect friend? Romanova's original take on a familiar situation will resonate with children who must adjust to new siblings, and Kulikov's witty illustrations are sure to intrigue children and adults alike. Ages 4-8. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
A new baby always changes family relationships. The unique note here is our main character, Archie, a very anthropomorphic dog. We meet him dressed in an overcoat and carrying an umbrella, wondering what surprise his family is bringing home for him. They have tried to ease his loneliness with a pet fish, turtle, and a rabbit. But he is hoping for something bigger. When the surprise turns out to be a tiny baby named Max, Archie is very disappointed. Nobody pays any attention to him any more; he misbehaves and is very unhappy. Finally the family notices. But the best part is that Max grows, and eventually is big enough to be the friend he has longed for. Archie, with his floppy ears, sad eyes, pudgy torso, is guaranteed to capture our sympathy—even when he pees in a shoe and messes up the kitchen. The naturalistic scenes, mini-dramas set on white pages and depicted from his low point of view, are filled with details to investigate as we empathize. 2005, Frances Foster Books/Farrar Straus and Giroux, Ages 4 to 8.
—Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1-Archie, the family dog, has been promised a surprise. Previous surprises-a goldfish, a turtle, a rabbit-have not been suitable playmates. This time the family brings home Max, "a wriggling, snuffling bundle in a cradle." Now no one, not Mother or Father nor Grandma or Grandpa, pays any attention to Archie, even when he acts out by peeing in the house. At last they notice him forlorn under a chair and, in turn, each one of them tries to cheer him up. It's not until Max, now walking, throws him a ball that Archie's dream of finding a perfect friend comes true. The fact that this book is about adjusting to a new baby is slowly developed. Readers at first will more likely fixate on the visual portrayal of Archie, who wears flowered boxers and walks upright. When sporting his overcoat and umbrella on the opening pages, he looks more like a dandy than a dog. Plus, the scene where he pees into the shoe is as visually disturbing as it is funny: Is this a dog or a boy? The depiction of the baby in his red stocking cap could be questioned as well: Is this an infant or a troll? Vibrant paintings humorously depict each scene and the bug-eyed characters with stylized precision. This wacky, rather sophisticated look at redefining familial roles may not be everyone's cup of tea but it does reflect a unique perspective.-Martha Topol, Traverse Area District Library, Traverse City, MI Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Archie the dog longs for a friend to play with, a real friend who would play ball, not like the goldfish, turtle or rabbit his parents got him. So when his human family leaves one morning promising a surprise when they return, he's hopeful, but the wriggling, snuffling bundle in a cradle is not the surprise he wanted. When baby Max gets all the attention, Archie misbehaves, peeing in a shoe and climbing high for a snack. As Max gets bigger, Archie feels smaller and smaller. When his family finally notices, Grandma plays the piano for him, Grandpa teaches him chess, father takes him bicycling and mother performs a puppet show. But there's still one thing missing-a friend, until Max becomes the perfect one. This husband-wife collaboration is cleverly appealing; Kulikov's capricious illustrations accentuate the humor with offbeat details and perspectives (through a fish bowl; underneath the table legs). The charm is in the child-like behavior of dog Archie; adults will grin at the wry twist on "dog is man's best friend," and kids will love Archie in his flower-print shorts and expressive, big floppy ears. (Picture book. 4-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374358211
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 9/10/2005
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.32 (w) x 8.04 (h) x 0.34 (d)

Meet the Author

Yelena Romanova and Boris Kulikov were born and raised in Russia and met in St. Petersburg. They are married and live in Brooklyn, New York, with their son, Max. This is their first picture book collaboration. Mr. Kulikov has illustrated a number of other books for children, including Morris the Artist by Lore Segal.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2005


    Warm funny, endearing, smile-provoking all describe this delightful story for young readers by the husband and wife team of Romanova and Kulikov. This is their first collaboration, and we hope to see more. Based on events in their lives 'The Perfect Friend' is a story of love, and the happy surprises life has in store. Archie is a lovable pooch who lives with a man and wife. The only problem is that Archie's lonely - he so very much wanted someone to play with, someone who would throw a ball that he could catch. When the man and wife left home this particular morning they promised they'd bring him a surprise. He wondered what it might be. Once they brought him a goldfish, which was nice but couldn't throw a ball. Another time they brought him a turtle - entirely too slow for Archie. When the man and wife came home, Archie ran to their car. He found it was full of surprises but had no idea which might be for him. Then, of all things, he saw 'a wriggling, snuffling bundle in a cradle.' The baby's name is Max, and from then on things go from bad to worse. Now that they are parents the couple spend all of their time taking care of Max and practically ignoring Archie who just keeps feeling smaller, smaller, so very insignificant. Grandma playing the piano for him doesn't cheer him up nor does Grandpa teaching him how to play chess. However, as time passes there is a wonderful, very amazing surprise - Archie does find the most perfect friend. Youngsters will be delighted with who it is. - Gail Cooke

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2005


    the combination of the story and the illustrations are so in que, they compliment each other in every way. It is hard to say which is better: the story or the pictures. This is a great book for the whole family, no age limit required!!!! a good book to give as a present for any child or adult in a need of a smile.

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