Young canine lovers will cheer for Larabee, a perky pup who belongs to Mr. Bowman, the mail carrier. Although happy to help deliver the mail, Larabee longs to receive a letter of his own. "Sorry, Larabee, dogs don't get mail," says Mr. Bowman. Or do they? Wacky proportions and vibrant colors add to the topsy-turvy feel of a world where dogs assist mail carriers rather than chase them. (Ages 2 to 4)
Child magazine's Best Children's Book Awards 2004
Larabee, a yellow spotted dog with noodly black ears, belongs to a mailman, Mr. Bowman. Every day, they deliver letters to old and young people throughout their ethnically diverse town. Although it goes without comment, the mail implies a great deal about its recipients: a boy receives a birthday card; an elderly woman happily accepts junk mail and dreams of riches ("You could have just won $1,000,000!" reads the envelope); and Mr. and Mrs. Mendoza "get a letter from their son in the army." Larabee enjoys making the neighborhood rounds, but wishes someone would send him a letter. (Larabee does not speak, but communicates by sniffing the blue mail bag.) Mr. Bowman shrugs that "dogs don't get mail," yet at the end of the day, there is a lavender envelope in the sack. Lacey, a girl who "loves Larabee the most," has written him a simple crayon note that makes his day (Mr. Bowman reads it aloud to the pooch). Through quiet Larabee, who feels neglected even if he is not lonely, Luthardt (Peep!) suggests how much people appreciate getting personal, tangible greetings. The gouache and acrylic pictures-of round-headed characters, blocky houses and green shrubbery-keep the simple message at the forefront, and Lacey's unadorned card demonstrates how anyone can make a small, thoughtful gesture to a friend. Ages 2-6. (Feb.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
Mr. Bowman, with his big round head and tall blue cap is a dedicated mail carrierhe wakes up early every day and starts on his route, accompanied by Larabee, his small yellow dog with black spots, ears, and nose. Sometimes Larabee gets overexcited (running away with the mail or barking at cats), but he loves letters and would especially like to receive one himself. Mr. Bowman has to remind him, "Sorry, Larabee, dogs don't get mail." Everyone in town knows Larabee: an amusing spread shows him strutting down the street greeted by a barber, a waitress at the diner, a boy sitting on his stoop, and a jazz musician with his saxophone. But Larabee's special friend is Lacey McNabb, a sweet girl who hugs the little dog, ties flowers on his ears and, one day, sends him a lavender letter. Kids will surely cheer with the ecstatic pup and listen attentively as Mr. Bowman reads it to him. With their solid, rounded forms and huge heads, Luthardt's people remind one of Claymation figures with undertones of retro, maybe even of Wallace and Gromit. Though the gouache, pencil, and acrylic illustrations present a toy-like world, Luthardt is clever at portraying canine emotions with a rounded eye, the curved line of a mouth, or an upturned ear. A last look at sweetly dreaming Larabee clutching his precious letter makes a satisfying conclusion for the youngest readers and listeners. Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft
Children's Literature - Barbara L. Talcroft
PreS-Gr 2-A golden pup with big black spots, a long snout, and floppy ears loves accompanying his owner, Mr. Bowman, as he delivers the mail. Larabee helps to bring Little Benny a birthday card and the Mendoza family an envelope from their son in the army. Although he knows that dogs don't get mail, he wishes that just once he would receive a letter. After a busy day, the mailbag is empty, except for a piece of correspondence that makes his dream come true. Whimsical characters in vibrant colors fill the artwork, done in gouache, colored pencil, and acrylic. Bold one- and two-page paintings depict a culturally diverse community. The simple text, supplemented by expressive thought balloons, effectively details the daily routine of a mail carrier, as well as how Larabee's presence affects the people he meets. This fun read-aloud will charm children.-Wanda Meyers-Hines, Ridgecrest Elementary School, Huntsville, AL Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
A subtle twist on the mailman vs. dog theme, but Mr. Bowman the mailman, brings his own dog, Larabee, on his route every day. And it must be the best of all perfect worlds because everyone likes Larabee, except Mrs. Fellini, who's a cat person. Everyone gets letters too: Mr. and Mrs. Mendoza get a letter from their son; Benny Habermeyer gets a birthday card; and the butcher's package intrigues Larabee the most. But "dogs don't get mail," says Mr. Bowman. Luthardt sends his direct storytelling out with gentle, happy illustrations, enclosing characteristic emotional content in the package, his characters all sporting oversized heads and often speaking in speech balloons. Finally, Larabee gets his own letter from one of the little girls on his route: "I love you very much!!!" she writes. This is a colorful, seamless blend of simple sentiment mixed with happy intent putting a stamp on why we should continue to use the post office for more than just junk mail. (Picture book. 2-5)