Reviews for Stick Dog

Booklist Reviews 2013 January #1
Stick Dog (so named for his rudimentary depiction by narrator Tom, who claims an inability to draw) and his doggy friends--Poo Poo, Karen, Mutt, and Stripes--are strays living in a suburban park. One day they detect "a pleasant aroma" (grilling hamburgers) and decide to satisfy their hunger at whatever cost. The chase that follows involves distractions (a squirrel in a tree), misunderstandings about the family that is grilling, and a series of ludicrous attack plans that surprisingly results in a tasty conclusion. Watson's humorous debut novel is reminiscent of Jeff Kinney's Wimpy Kid and Lincoln Peirce's Big Nate series. It features succinct text, oversize type, and frequent cartoon illustrations, all printed on what looks like notebook paper. The humor and format will attract readers, but the canine camaraderie, development of distinct characters, sprinkling of perceptive comments, and Stick Dog's quiet but effective leadership (in particular, his kind responses to his pals' ridiculous attack plans) will ensure devoted fans. Here's hoping more Stick Dog adventures are in the works. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Fall
Stick Dog and his fellow stray friends take turns devising ridiculous plans to snatch freshly grilled hamburgers from a picnicking family. In this meta-journal-style story illustrated with black-and-white cartoons, each dog's personality is well defined; the humor is slapstick silly but not crude; and the resolution is sweetly satisfying. Readers will be eager for the next installment.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 November #2
Nothing's better than a grilled burger on a hot summer day in Picasso Park, but how's a pack of mutts going to get some? Stick Dog (so named not because he loves sticks--though he does--but because narrator Tom can only draw him like a stick figure) lives in an empty pipe under Highway 16. He and his friends--Poo-Poo the poodle, Stripes the Dalmatian, Karen the dachshund and Mutt the…well, mutt--are all hungry, and they smell burgers on the grill in a nearby park. They race over…OK, their race is interrupted by Poo-Poo's obsessive hatred of squirrels…and find a family grilling. Each pup puts forth a plan to nab the burgers. Biting ankles? No. Stealing their car? No. Cliff diving? Uh, no. Stick Dog has a brilliant burger-snitching plan, but things don't go exactly as planned. Watson's retelling and extension of his self-published Stick Dog adventure, re-illustrated by Long, is full of silly, slapstick doggy humor. Stick Dog is slightly smarter than his eminently distractible ADHD canine pals, and young readers or listeners will enjoy his repeated use of reverse psychology to get them where they need to be. Three to four sentences in large type on fake notebook paper with ample stick drawings make this an enticing package for those just starting chapter books. A welcome canine entry in the metajournal genre. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 7-10) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 November #3

"I Can't Draw, Okay?" is the name of the first chapter of this heavily illustrated reader from Watson, who's previously published two e-books starring the eponymous dog. Watson illustrated those earlier tales, but Long (Pig Has a Plan) does the "bad" drawing in this iteration, contributing exuberant stick-figure cartoons that riff on and clean up Watson's earlier designs. It's a treat to see how Long transforms two rectangles, some googly eyes, and a few lines into spot-on evocations of endearingly goofy dog behavior. Unfortunately, the new images also throw light on the book's weaknesses: overworked prose, weak characterizations, forced jokes, and a woolly narrative about five stray dogs that catch the scent of a cookout and head off in search of its source. Watson tries to be ironic and irreverent in his humor, claiming his story will be "told in a way I like (but my English teacher doesn't)" and naming one of Stick Dog's canine friends Poo-Poo (he's a poodle). But readers may quickly start flipping ahead, looking for storytelling traction or differentiation among the characters. Ages 8-12. (Jan.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2013 February

Gr 3-6--The young narrator of this tale gets in trouble with his teachers for drawing stick figures and using improper sentence structure. However, that doesn't stop him from telling an amusing, heartwarming story with plenty of humorous asides about an intrepid canine. Stick Dog may be homeless, but he's resourceful enough to make a nice place for himself in an empty pipe, filled with a comfy cushion and lots of discarded toys. He's got a close-knit bunch of canine pals: Poo-poo, Karen, Stripes, and Mutt. The only thing he's missing is food, so when the buddies get a whiff of hamburgers from the nearby park, they take off. But levelheaded and kind Stick Dog can't quite get the mission going as he would like. First, Poo-poo is obsessed with an acorn-throwing squirrel along the way; then Stripes is convinced that the people barbecuing are "super-warrior humans" not to be fooled with when she sees the weaponlike barbecue fork; and finally, Karen disappears searching for potato-chip appetizers. Stick Dog handles everyone's distractions with grace, but he's bent on getting to those burgers. The ridiculous plans devised by each dog to actually get the food escalate the humor. Watson has created lovable characters whose faults make them even more endearing. The stick drawings are the perfect fit for this story.--Diane McCabe, John Muir Elementary, Santa Monica, CA

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