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Bashful Bob and Doleful Dorinda

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Bashful Bob and Doleful Dorinda is a boisterous and delightful dissertation on discovering the uncharted depths of one's own personality. Abandoned by his bubble-headed mum and raised by a bunch of dogs, Bob is understandably bashful around humans. Deprived of her parents while still in diapers, Dorinda endures a dreadful existence with distant relatives. On a dark and drizzly December day, Dorinda and Bob meet on a vacant block strewn with bushes, buttercups and benches. They become fast friends. One day, a bewildered buffalo bounds over a barrier at a nearby Botanical Garden. Amid billows of dust and the beeping and blaring of horns, Bob and Dorinda band together to save the day. Relying on their wits - and the useful deployment of Bob's dog buddies and Dorinda's distracting dust mops - the dynamic duo restore order and emerge from the episode victorious. No longer bashful and doleful, Bob and Dorinda discover that they can be brave and daring.
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With Atwood's rollicking wordplay accompanied by Dusan Petricic's playful and mischievous illustrations, Bashful Bob and Doleful Dorinda is a tale to be treasured by readers of all ages.

About the Author

Margaret Atwood lives in Canada and is the author of many wonderful books for adults as well as four other books for children. She has won the Booker Prize with Blind Assassin as well as being shortlisted for the prize with Oryx and Crake. Dusan Petricic is an award-winning illustrator who has illustrated over twenty books for children. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Scientific American and the Toronto Star. Like Margaret, Dusan lives in Toronto, Canada.


In this alliterative trifle by Atwood, who previously wielded consonants in Princess Prunella and the Purple Peanut, two homeless urchins form a fabulous friendship. Bob has been "abandoned... beside a beauty parlour" by his mother, whose new hairdo leaves her "so blinded by her burnished brilliance that baby Bob was blotted from her brain." Three dogs (a boxer, a beagle and a borzoi, naturally) adopt Bob, who takes to hiding in bushes and barking. Not far off lives Dorinda, whose parents "disappeared in a dreadful disaster." Her wealthy relatives "didn't dole out a dime," make her sweep and wash ("Drat these darned dirty dishes," she curses). In ink-line illustrations washed with monochrome watercolor, Petricic color-codes Bob in warm gold and ochre, and Dorinda in lavender, pink and blue. When one child's tale of woe takes the foreground, the other can be seen in the distance, so they are never far from one another. The two finally meet, and Dorinda coaxes Bob to read and speak; together they pacify a raging buffalo that escapes from a zoo. Ultimately, Atwood restores their parents, who "bought a bungalow" for all, dogs included. Happy ending notwithstanding, the title waifs are crushed under the perversely prolific wordplay, and the excessive Bs and Ds lose their comedic zing after a few paragraphs. Ages 5-up. (Nov.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Gr 1-3-As in the author's Princess Prunella and the Purple Peanut (Workman, 1995) and Rude Ramsey and the Roaring Radishes (Bloomsbury, 2004), sophisticated wordplay drives this story. Bob was abandoned beside a beauty parlor as a baby. Raised by three dogs, he "barked when bothered" and would "bound behind bushes or burrow under benches." A block away, Dorinda has problems of her own. Dumped on distant relatives when her parents disappeared, she has lived a Cinderella-like existence, "dealing with dirty dishes in a disreputable dive." When Dorinda meets up with Bob, she teaches him how to talk, and together they thwart the advances of a "bewildered buffalo" wrongly labeled a begonia by a "bungling bureaucrat." The simultaneous exploits of the characters are shown in Petricic's line drawings. Color is used to great effect-Bob's scenes have a muddy gold wash and Dorinda's are rendered in purple. The witty, albeit ridiculous plot plays not only with language, but also with fairy-tale conventions. However, despite the happy ending, the relentless alliteration becomes tiresome.-Linda Ludke, London Public Library, Ontario, Canada Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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