The Very Shy Dog
By Lisze Bechtold
(Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, Hardcover, 9780395850084, 48pp.)
Publication Date: March 1999
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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Buster is not a small dog, but he feels like a small dog. He feels small at crowded birthday parties. He feels small when he tries to catch balls or chase wild animals. He especially feels small next to Phoebe, a bold dog who is an ace ballcatcher, popular at parties, and seemingly unafraid of anything. In these three stories Buster discovers his self-worth and self-confidence and makes friends along the way. Beginning readers will relate to Buster's fears and his successes and will relish in their very own triumph of completing a chapter book.
Lisze Bechtold lives in South Pasadena, California, with her three children, one husband, and three cats. The author of Buster: The Very Shy Dog and Edna's Tale, she says that the inspiration for the Buster stories comes from her many fond memories of living with the real Buster and Phoebe.
Buster, a shy puppy, is intimidated in his new home. Phoebe, the older dog, is bold and bossy. How Buster comes out of his shell is disclosed in three chapters. In the first, Buster and a shy girl help each other at a birthday party; in the second, Buster's sharp hearing saves the day; and in the last vignette, Buster and Phoebe team up to scare off some garbage-eating raccoons. More substantial then some easy readers, this has an agreeable, relatable story and above-average cartoon-style artwork that features the particularly appealing Buster. A good choice for kids just past the easiest reader stage.
May 15, 1999 Booklist, ALA
In the first of these easy-to-read stories, Buster's bashfulness causes him to hide ("Most people met Buster by accident") during his master's birthday party until he meets a kindred spirit; in the second, Buster's "big sister" Phoebe, who's a whiz at fetching and catching, helps Buster find his own gift; in the last story, Phoebe and Buster put their talents together to catch the "Garbage Bandit". The digest-sized format of the book is pitched toward both picture-book and beginning-reader audiences, and the lively ink-and-watercolor illustrations have a well-drawn goofiness that barks up just the right tree. Although Buster's "shyness" doesn't play as large a role here as the title might imply, these tales about the new dog at home will provide plenty of resonance for younger readers, not to mention younger siblings.
Bechtold makes a sturdy debut with these three episodes in the life of a big dog with scrawny self-esteem. Although he is intimidated by strangers and totally unable to catch thrown objects, Buster discovers that he's a good listener, a talent that comes in handy when there's an escaped hamster to track down, a gang of nocturnal garbage-pail plunderers to catch in the act, or a lonely human to comfort. Slinking anxiously through airy, simply drawn scenes, the pop-eyed, charcoal-colored pooch looks ready to bolt at the drop of a hat, and while he finds a measure of courage at last in the company of his outgoing canine companion, Phoebe, readers will want to give him a reassuring hug. Scoot over, Mudge.