Thursday, May 29, 2014

Mr Magee and his dog Dee books by Chris Van Dusen

Rating: 15 stars!  (or, 5 each)

Here are the facts about all three of these books, before I get to the details of them individually:
  1. I've had them from the library for far too long. Two are due today!  But I really don't want to return them.
  2. Kiefer and I have read them every-which-where, including but not limited to: the gas station, Ben's gymnastics class, the library, and carpool.
  3. They are fun, fun, FUN--wonderfully silly and witty read-aloud books that just do not get old!
  4. The word choice is just perfect, with mostly known words he bends into a rhyme and creative, stretch words sprinkled throughout.
  5. The illustrations are fantastic, jump-out-from-the-page, retro masterpieces.
  6. Van Dusen lives in Maine, so each of these books has hints of Maine, which is a nice twist if you're heading there this summer or if you live there year-round or if you wish one/both of these were true.
And now, to a few details about each book (though you really don't need details.  Just get them--order them or buy them or swipe them from my library bag Thursday afternoon if you're feeling especially wily)…

Down to the Sea with Mr. Magee

Oh to have a picture book debut like THIS!  With big, splashy pictures and a wonderful rollicking rhyme Van Dusen tells the tale of a man and his dog (that's Magee and Dee) who like to take little jaunts on their boat.  This little jaunt goes awry when a curious whale checks out their boat and, with a mighty spray, sends them up in the air and then right into a tall, tall tree.  They're stuck.  Yikes!

But it's the whale and his pals who come to their rescue by smacking their tails down all at once to create a tidal wave that makes the man and dog un-stuck.  They fall down safely and decide that their uneaten lunch should become dinner once they've returned to their cozy cabin up the hill…
From under the sea the little whale spied
Magee and Dee's boat--but not them inside
He longed for adventure.  He wanted to play.
So he bumped at the boat in a most friendly way.
Then the whale placed his blowhole directly below
And ever so gently he started to blow.

Learning to Ski With Mr. Magee 

I think this is my favorite.  Mr. Magee decides he wants to learn to ski, so he packs Dee on his back and decides to try his luck on a rather large hill by his house.  Things are going surprisingly okay until a moose meanders across their path in search of a succulent birch.

Magee tries to ask him to move, but the big old moose does not; man and dog wooooosh under him and, when their skies get snagged by a branch, they get stuck at the top of a ravine.  They do get out, with the help of said moose using their upside down skies as a bridge.  Seeing man and dog fly through the air is definitely a riot!

It's a silly tale told with gusto, and I read it once four times one morning when Kiefer was on a Magee kick.
The moose turned around and what did he see?
Mr. Magee and his little dog, Dee!
The moose was so shocked he stood frozen in fear.
But Mr. Magee hadn't learned how to steer!
And he knew very soon they were going to collide,
So he called to the moose, "Would you please step aside?"

A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee

This is definitely Kiefer's favorite.  He loves how Magee and Dee head off with their retro camper (okay, Kiefer doesn't describe it as "retro" but…it is) and park very happily and a little cluelessly near a little stream that--this only happens in children's books, or does this happen in Maine?--turns into a raging waterfall just a smattering of feet later.

After they tuck in for the night, a bear with bad eyesight stumbles along looking for treats.  He finds an open bag of marshmallows, but on his way to the bag he ducks under the trailer hitch and un-hooks the camper from the truck!  Dog and man roll back into the stream and are kept from going over by a big rock.  The bear's bad eyesight is actually the reason they escape a watery adventure (whew!!) and man and dog decide to return home a little early from their camping trip.
They were caught in the rapids--but that wasn't all.
They were headed smack dab for the big waterfall!
Dee and Magee both started to quiver,
As faster and faster they headed downriver.
But just when they thought they'd fall over the edge…
Their camper got stuck on a rock at the ledge.

Is it bad that I think the look of panic on Magee's face is downright hilarious?  Van Dusen gets his facial expressions so right--a mixture of clueless and adventurous and shock at finding himself in yet another disastrous position.  Clearly I hang around kids all day. 

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