'Sherman Crunchley' a delightful read with a twist

BY DIANE PRATHER

It's only natural that Sherman Crunchley, a dog, should be a police officer. After all, his great-great-great grandfather was the first ever chief of police in Biscuit City. And ever since a Crunchley has been the chief.
That includes his great-grandmother, Weezelda Crunchley. There are photos of all of the family chiefs in Sherman's house.
Kirby Crunchley, Sherman's father, is police chief, but he'll retire in a month. Guess who is in line to take the job?
In "Sherman Crunchley," a picture book by Laura Numeroff and Nate Evans and illustrated by Tim Bowers, Sherman has a big problem. He doesn't like, even hates, being a policeman, so he certainly doesn't want to be promoted. But Sherman doesn't know how to tell his father.
For that matter, Sherman doesn't know how to say "no" to anybody. He's just too nice. For example, when a big fuzzy dog wearing sandals, pleads not guilty to get a parking ticket because his green car with a bone hood ornament is parked next to an expired parking meter, Sherman pretends not to notice.
Imagine breaking up a fight with a box of doughnuts. That's what Sherman does to bribe two dogs to stop fighting because he can't tell them to stop.
Sherman can't say no to the sergeant, either, so he ends up doing piles of paperwork. The poodle secretary, dressed in office attire, keeps bringing in the files. (Her hair is in curls, she has polished her nails, and wears bright red lipstick.)
The only thing Sherman likes about his job is his hat. In fact, he likes all kinds of hats and reads "Hats Magazine." There are lots of hats hanging in his house.
Among others, there's a green hat with bones all around the rim, a large sombrero, and a hat that looks like a Christmas cake with a cherry on top. A yellow hat is decorated with a lobster and sea shells, and still another looks like a rocking dog house. They range from every design imaginable.
One night Sherman's mother calls. Will he be in charge of the favors for his father's retirement party? Of course he will because he can't say no, but he has bigger problems than favors. How can Sherman tell his father that he doesn't want to be chief?
So Sherman checks out a "How To Say No" book from the library. He visits Professor Hamboni, a hypnotist and a cute dog wearing a white turban. He sends for a tape. Nothing works, and the retirement party is almost here. The hats are at the center of the book's surprise ending.
Laura Numeroff also is author of "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie." "I Wonder If Poodles Like Noodles", another of her many books, is illustrated by Tim Bowers. "Sherman Crunchley" is published by Dutton Children's Books (2003) and is $15.99 in hardback. (ISBN 0-525-47130-8)

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