Pug-a-Doodle-Do! by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre

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Pug-a-Doodle-Do! by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre

Reeve Pug.jpg
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Category: Crafts
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A wondrously absurd join-in-and-match-us-in-our-absurdity volume that just begs the audience to be creative. Heartily recommended, although it offers little for those of us who can't draw and appear doodle-deficient.
Buy? Yes Borrow? No
Pages: 160 Date: September 2017
Publisher: OUP Oxford
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9780192764041

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I was reading a book so utterly different to this the other day, it has to bear mention. It was an exceedingly academic book about graphic novels and comics for the YA audience, and it featured an essay picking up on the way books like the fill-in-bits-yourself entries in the Wimpy Kid and Dork Diaries series (such as this one) let you interact with the franchise, and also to create your own content. There was some weird high-falutin' academic language to describe such books – but you know what? I say (redacted) to that – let's just hang it and have fun. And this book, spinning off from the four books this partnership has so far been responsible for, is certainly a provider of that.

The pair has given us walking islands in one adventure, a space ship's catering going wrong in another, and an alien theme park in a third – not to forget all those chilly pug dogs. And elements of all four books are in this help-yourself, join-in-and-get-creative, why-don't-you-just-switch-off-your-television-set-and-actually-have-fun-with-a-book volume. It's actually got so much content that, opposed to the regular format size of the aforementioned tie-ins, this is almost A4. It therefore leaves you with mucho scope to get creative…

It's a little unfortunate then that a lot of that creativity is purely of the artistic, visual kind. Beyond writing a couple of things, and inventing some wacky names for different things, a LOT of this book is demanding you draw. But it's what you have to draw that is the selling point. You have to construct a home for a puffball, a spoon(!), paper clips (!!!), a roller-coaster ride with suitable alien occupants, and a vehicle that combines a helicopter, an ice-cream van and a cat. You're adding beards to ladies, defining killer cakes, and deciding what expression a sea monkey has when it takes a poo. But there are also new creations, such as flying Dartmoor ponies, that make this purchase even more worthwhile.

This, clearly, is the best 'inspiring art while also cashing in' book out there, and it is clearly brilliant. You start with drawing loud trouser patterns and stripy tights on our two creators and go on from there. You also start to understand why the visual elements are to the fore here, for when it is revealed the two created their own three-page comic by alternating which panel they would do, you struggle to find a difference. The visual element is strong in this book, and that's not just what you have to offer – there is a variety of child-friendly comic styles involved, and a lot of interacting with (and letters of complaint about) a certain crab that wants to be on every page.

Clearly, this book is genius. In being so silly and using examples of the utterly bizarre it has managed to do just what that pompous essay was on about. It engages the fan of the series or creators with the source texts in a way no other volume could hope to do, and it gets you thinking and creating, so it serves many an educational, Riethian purpose. I would say it gets you thinking outside the box, but that box as the forepage proves is a box of pugs stood on its head, and that's a very mad box indeed. Here then is the ideal chance of being utterly loopy while also engaging with what some posh professorial types deem important. Fun wins, and academia wins – and the buyer of this certainly wins. Even if she is called Mrs Edna Rogers of Weybridge.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

Prior to this, the only large-format get-drawing books I knew of were along slightly more academic lines, such as Iggy Peck's Big Project Book for Amazing Architects by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts.

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Buy Pug-a-Doodle-Do! by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Pug-a-Doodle-Do! by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre at Amazon.com.


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