K-Gr 2—Claude is a stylish dog who tucks handy supplies under his beret and goes on adventures with his animated sock friend, Sir Bobblysock. He decides he needs a vacation, so he packs a suitcase with useful items (whipping cream, lampshade, slightly squished sandwiches) and heads to the beach. He and Sir Bobblysock rescue a swimmer from a shark, win a sand castle contest, and team up with pirates to search for treasure. Just as rival pirate Naughty Nora appears and the situation looks dire, the contents of Claude's suitcase provide an unexpected solution. At first glance, the book looks like a beginning reader with its limited color palette, illustrations in the style of Mr. Peabody and Sherman, and repetitive cadence ("Claude is a dog. Claude is a small dog. Claude is a small, plump dog"). However, vocabulary like "baguette" and "skedaddled" and Claude's attempt to order ice cream in French ("Excusez-moi, 'ave you une glace à flavor of juicy bone?") make the book more advanced that it would seem at first. A fun choice for children who enjoy absurdist humor, but probably best as a read-aloud.—Suzanne Myers Harold, formerly at Multnomah County Library System, Portland, OR
Claude and his best friend, Sir Bobblysock (who is both a sock and very bobbly), pack their bags and go on vacation to the beach. They rescue a man from a shark, win a sandcastle-building competition, and hunt for pirate treasure. Of course, they make it back home just before Mr. and Mrs. Shinyshoes come home from work.
Quirky, delightfully odd, and positively surreal, Alex T. Smith’s illustrated early chapter book series promises giggle-filled bedtime reading and a laugh-out-loud option for readers transitioning from picture books to chapter books.
This early chapter book is often hilarious, but it should not be used as an instruction manual, as Claude the dog is not much of a role model. No matter what Claude the dog does, if a band of pirates invites them to search for buried treasure, readers should think twice before going with them. Even his sidekick, Sir Bobblysock, thinks this is a dubious proposition. And readers packing for a trip to the beach probably would not want to bring whipped cream, a lampshade or sticky tape. (The tambourine, however, is very useful.) Admittedly, Claude ends up having a terrific time. He saves a man from a shark, collects a hatful of gold and jewels, and looks very stylish with whipped cream on top of his head. But Claude is also the sort of dog who can pull off a beret and a red sweater. (Smith's pink and gray, retro-modern illustrations are charming.) Most dogs wouldn't look nearly as good. Readers willing to go with Claude's flow will enjoy reading this third adventure on the beach or on a hidden desert island, as well as more pedestrian places. Readers who take it too seriously might end up like Claude, floating in the middle of the ocean, wearing baggy underpants (held together with sticky tape) and pursued by a shark—but they'll be laughing. (Fiction. 7-10)