Diane Prather's columns appear in the Craig Daily Press and Saturday Morning Press. You can call her at 824-8809.
Craig Even though their coat colors are different, Charlie, the guinea pig in this week's book, reminds me of Zachary, my grandson Jaycee's guinea pig. I wonder if Zachary thinks about hitting it big, too.
"Charlie Hits It Big," a picture book, was written by Deborah Blumenthal and illustrated by Denise Brunkus.
An illustration on the credit page gives the reader a clue about Charlie's plans. He's packing a suitcase. He puts in a photograph of Sophie and himself, a toothbrush, toothpaste and plenty of lettuce.
By the time Sophie wakes up and goes to feed Charlie, he's already gone. His water bottle is there. So are pieces of newspaper from his bedding. But, Charlie is missing.
Everyone in the house screams, "Charlie, Charlie, Charlie!" And then Sophie finds a note.
Charlie wrote that he was off to the coast for an adventure. The family is puzzled until Sophie's sister Annie finds a clue. The headlines on a clipping chewed from a newspaper page read "Pigging Out: Pigs Big in Hollywood."
That isn't the only part of the newspaper Charlie kept, either. There's also one about the grand opening of Pet Food Emporium, plus "buy one, get one free" coupons for Fruity-Nut Buffet, Charlie's favorite snack. But, more about that later.
Meanwhile, Charlie is living it up on a 747. Perched up on his suitcase and three pillows, so he can reach the tray in front of his seat, Charlie enjoys a vegetarian lunch - a huge strawberry and some lettuce. He finishes it off with some tomato juice on the rocks.
From the airport, Charlie takes a taxi to Hollywood, checks into a hotel, and joins a tour to a major movie studio. While the others enjoy looking at the famous Hollywood sign, Charlie sneaks off in the direction of a casting sign. Some smart fellow, this Charlie.
Charlie has to wait awhile, but finally he gets to audition for a part. He has to pretend that he's a man with a broken heart, and Charlie gives it his all. He gets down on one knee, pounds his chest with his paw, and cries real tears. He does so well that he's asked to come back tomorrow, but there's a catch. Charlie has to have dark fur so he can be dark and handsome.
How he does it is anybody's guess. There is a hint about a shoeshine cloth, but the next day there he is, a dark and handsome Charlie. He goes through the act again, this time with a human actress, and gets the part.
Charlie has hit it big. He gets a wild new wardrobe and attends a party in his honor, which includes a buffet. Charlie looks forward to his Fruity-Nut Buffet treats, but although there's turkey, parfaits, breads and all kinds of other goodies on the buffet table, there are no sesame seeds, dried fruits or pumpkin seeds. Charlie ends up eating lettuce.
And that's just the beginning of Charlie's disappointments.
Young readers will love Charlie.
A guinea pig named Charlie lived with the Blumenthal family for two years. Deborah has written books for children and adults.
The reader may recognize Denise Brunkus' artistic style. She illustrated the "Junie B. Jones" series.
"Charlie Hits It Big" is published by Harper Collins Publishers (2007). It costs $16.99 in hardcover and is a first time on the shelf book at the Moffat County Library.