'Listen Buddy' is a must read

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Two weeks ago this column reviewed "Author: A True Story," a picture book for children. It's Helen Lester's story about her writing career -- mistakes and all -- that began when she was 3 years old.

On Tuesday, Helen Lester is coming to Craig to visit with Moffat County elementary students.

So this week, in honor of Lester, I'm reviewing "Listen Buddy!" her ninth book.

It's illustrated by Lynn Munsinger.

There's something special about everybody. That includes rabbits, too. In this rabbit family, Father has a nose that's good for sniffing things, like carrot juice. Mother has teeth that are just right for chomping carrots.

And their son Buddy has special beautiful, long ears.

Boy, are they ever long.

When the ears are standing up straight, they're as tall as Buddy. Sometimes they even drag on the ground when he's walking.

So because he has such big ears, the reader might guess that Buddy is a good listener. Not so.

Buddy daydreams, reads, watches television and probably a lot of other stuff instead of paying attention.

It doesn't matter whether Father and Mother Rabbit whisper or yell when they say: "Listen; Buddy."

Their son always manages to get things mixed up.

When he's told to bring home as basket of squash, Buddy brings home a basket of wash and looks quite pleased with himself, too. When his parents ask him to bring home 15 tomatoes, Buddy brings a wheelbarrow of potatoes -- 50 in all.

One of the funniest mistakes Buddy makes is in bringing his father a hen instead of a pen. Buddy has tied a cord around the hen's neck and is trying to pull her to his father's chair.

But the hen won't move, and the look on her face lets Buddy know that she means business (Lynn Munsinger's artwork is delightful, as always).

One day Buddy gets permission to go to the pond. Before this he's been allowed to go only as far as the vegetable stand. However, his parents warn him to take the path to the left. The path to the right leads to a cave belonging to Scruffy Varmint.

As usual, Buddy doesn't pay any attention, so he finds himself right where he's not supposed to be.

Scruffy Varmint's cave is surrounded by lots of prickly briarwood and signs that warn potential vistors to "keep out" and "go away."

"Scruffy" is a good name for this grouchy varmint. His clothes are torn and dirty, and one wonders why he even bothers to wear shoes.

The toes are completely gone, the soles are full of holes and the shoelaces are untied.

It's probably safe to say that Scruffy has never seen the likes of Buddy. During his time there, the long-haired rabbit learns a lesson.

This very funny story is a must read.

The facial expressions on the characters are priceless.

Some of Lester's other books include "Tacky the Penguin," "The Revenge of the Magic Chicken," "A Porcupine Named Fluffy" and "It Wasn't My Fault."

"Listen, Buddy!" is published by Houghton Mifflin Co. (1995) and costs $16.00 in hardcover. It is also available in paperback. ISBNs 13:978-0-295-72361-6 and 10: 0-395-72361-2

Welcome to Craig, Helen Lester.

Copyright Diane Prather/

--2006. All rights reserved.

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