Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Dory Fantasmagory (Dory #1) by Abby Hanlon

Remember building forts out of the couch cushions? Or having your siblings holler, "Mom! Barbie (insert your name) is bothering us!" Or being told you were a baby? Or wanting to play with your siblings so badly you let them trap you under the covers even though you were claustrophobic? I used to scale the sides of the doorway to the top and hold on to the ledge because my siblings thought it was cool. It was rare I was cool. I was number four out of five kids. I followed my siblings around asking if I could play with them and getting a resounding "No!" over and over again. Similarly, Dory Fantasmagory is a cranked up Tasmanian devil that is annoying and sympathetic but who desperately wants her siblings to play with her. They finally do when she shoves her hand down a toilet to retrieve a errant bouncy ball. Dory reminds me of a younger version of Roscoe Riley or Junie B. Jones. Her imaginary life is blurred with reality to the point where she doesn't know when to turn it off.

Dory has pretend friends that are monsters or witches or gnomes. She plays with them all day long and there are even extra chairs at the kitchen table for them. Her best friend is a monster named, "Mary," that reminds me of the creatures in Maurice Sendak's, "Where the Wild Things Are." The witch, Mrs. Gobble Gracker, looks like Viola Swamp in Harry Allard's, "Miss Nelson is Missing." The gnome is called Mr. Nuggy and reminded me of all the nuggies I got on the head from three older siblings. If you don't know what a nuggy is it is when an annoyed sibling puts you in a headlock and painfully rubs his or her knuckles hard on your scalp.

Dory desperately wants to play with her siblings and is so excited when her brother likes it when she pretends that she's a dog that she goes overboard pretending she is one. When her mom wants to take her to the doctor she refuses and barks at her. A terrific illustration captures Dory's mom carrying Dory down the street forcing a dress on her. Shoes and purse are scattered on that front steps as Dory's flailing arms fight her mom with her dress over her head. At the doctor's office Dory stays in her hyperactive mode explaining that "I was stuck as a dog and there was nothing I could do about it. These things just happen to me." She woofs at all of the doctor's questions, pants like a dog, and thinks about licking the doctor. She even pretend-stabs the doctor with a lollipop stick but you'll have to read the story to find out why.

The pacing, humor, and illustrations make this a hoot. Grade 2 students couldn't stop laughing at it as a read aloud. Three students asked to check out the book in grade 1 when I finished half the book. The small pictures make me wonder if I should put it on the document projector so they can see the illustrations better. Everyone crowded around me to see the worm in Dory's brother's underwear. The book is 150 illustrated pages and I went through 55 of them in 20 minutes. You could easily finish it in 2-3 readings. Earlier in the fall I read the picture book, "No Fits, Nilsen," by Zachariah OHora that is about imaginary friends. This was a good follow-up. This is good for children dealing with siblings, hyperactivity, self-control, and pretend play. A must for your library.

5 Smileys

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