August 15, 2016

Buddy and Earl and the Great Big Baby

by Maureen Fergus
Illustrated by Carey Sookocheff
Groundwood Books
32 pp.
Ages 4-7
August 2016

Our dynamic duo of Buddy, the dog, and Earl, the hedgehog, introduced in Buddy and Earl (Groundwood, 2015) and revisited in Buddy and Earl Go Exploring (Groundwood, 2016) have a new adventure afoot when it is announced that Mrs. Cunningham and her baby are coming for a visit.  Meredith, the young girl in the family, seems excited, and the two pets follow suit.  But what’s a baby? Earl questions, and makes all manner of speculation from a mode of transportation to an electrical appliance or something to eat, while Buddy adds his modest knowledge to the discussion.

The arrival of the child leaves them both chagrined as the baby pays no attention to anyone and leaves of swath of destruction as it ambles through the house, tasting, eating, breaking.  A consequent delivery to its cage i.e. playpen has the baby making friends with Earl who then appoints himself guardian when the great big baby escapes to new and wild adventures in bedrooms of snakes and lava and dinosaurs and, the deadliest of all, water.
From Buddy and Earl and the Great Big Baby 
by Maureen Fergus, illus. by Carey Sookocheff
Buddy’s faithfulness is only surpassed by Earl’s joie de vivre making the two a duo of contrasts and congeniality.  In facing a new encounter, Buddy and Earl work together to understand, mitigate and even appreciate the complication that is the great big baby.  By giving voice to Buddy and Earl and even Meredith as they handle the baby, Maureen Fergus covers a variety of sentiments, recognizing that babies, like pets, aren’t always small and adorable but still “make the world a happier place” (pg. 31).

Again Carey Sookocheff illustrates Buddy and Earl’s adventure with the right feel of simplicity and wonder.  There is sparseness to the artwork that is brilliantly appropriate for a story told from the perspective of a dog and a hedgehog, undoubtedly less concerned with the material excessiveness of our world.  Imaginative play and exploration are emphasized, not things, and Carey Sookocheff makes sure that, with her minimal colour palette and attention to shape and line, Buddy and Earl remain the stars of this story, nothwithstanding a great big baby, that is.

Buddy and Earl 
from Buddy and Earl and the Great Big Baby 
by Maureen Fergus, illus. by Carey Sookocheff


  1. I ADORE Buddy and Earl, Earl's imagination is just so delightful, and the two characters have a wonderful friendship. Can't wait to read this one!

    1. I agree! The two buddies are so different yet so compatible.