Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Scientific Approach to Understanding Book Banning

Tuesdays with Morzant

Experiment 451.0: Determine the Dangerous Properties Inherent in Banned Books

[Bigfoot enters Morzant’s lab.]

BIGFOOT: What’s going on? You look frustrated.

MORZANT: I am. The results of my latest experiments don’t make sense.

BIGFOOT: I appreciate your hard work to figure out why all my photographs turn out blurry, but it’s not worth getting upset about.

MORZANT: This isn’t about your photography impediment. It’s to do with banned books.

BIGFOOT: Banned books?

MORZANT: Yes. I’ve been hearing a lot about books that have been banned from schools and libraries. Apparently it’s not uncommon for a defect to be found in a book after it has been published. It then becomes necessary for those potentially dangerous books to be recalled. It seems that Earthlings are frequently careless in the manufacturing of their goods.

BIGFOOT: No, you don’t understand—

MORZANT: I’m appalled at my negligence. It never occurred to me to that Earth books could be hazardous. I assumed because Zeentonian books are made with inert materials, Earth books would be as safe. A reasonable assumption, perhaps, but one that would have offered no consolation if little Mortimer had been hurt. I’ve been recklessly reading TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD to him.


MORZANT: I take my studies of Earth literature seriously and, as in any scientific pursuit, safety is a primary concern. I can hardly evaluate a book objectively if it causes me injury. Therefore, over the last week, I’ve been conducting a series of experiments in an effort to learn what properties banned books exhibit. Once I’ve isolated them, I’ll be able to test for those same properties in other books. No offense to those in charge of banning books—I’m sure they’re quite diligent—but there doesn’t seem to be a comprehensive inventory of these dangerous books. I’ll feel more secure if I can identify them myself.

BIGFOOT: There’s nothing different about—

MORZANT: My first step was to collect as many banned books as I could. I assumed it would be difficult, but most of these books are easily accessible. Even so, nobody at the library seemed the least bit concerned for their safety.

BIGFOOT: That’s because books aren’t—

MORZANT: I collected a sampling of banned books from several locations, as well as books that have not been banned. It occurred to me that there might be variations in inks and papers used, so I also collected several editions of the same book. If there were any outward indications of the books’ dangerous propensities, I could not detect them, even with my keen powers of scientific observation. I then began systematically testing for combustibility…

BIGFOOT: Oh, no.

MORZANT: …radiation, chemical and biological toxins…

BIGFOOT: Please stop.

MORZANT: …pathogens, allergens, and parasitic infestations. I even ran a rigorous round of tests to determine if banned books are more predisposed to giving paper cuts than non-banned books.

BIGFOOT: You’ve been wasting your time. Books aren’t—hey! Is that my first edition CATCH-22?!

MORZANT: Of course not. I was very careful to separate—oh, dear.

BIGFOOT: It’s ruined!

MORZANT: I’m so sorry. But I’m sure you’ll be pleased to discover that your copy of CATCH-22 seemingly presents no more danger to you than this copy of THE HAPPY CHILDREN OF SAFEVILLE. In fact, I could find no harmful properties in any of these banned books. None of my tests yielded any recognizable differences between the banned books and the books that have not been banned. I’m at an impasse. How can I test for a quality that is outside my circle of knowledge?

BIGFOOT: You can’t.

MORZANT: Exactly. That’s why I’m frustrated! Discerning what constitutes a book that needs to be banned is beyond my scientific ability.

BIGFOOT: No. I don’t mean you can’t. Nobody can.

MORZANT: I don’t understand. Clearly some scientific standards of evaluation are applied to determine whether a book is deleterious or innocuous. Otherwise there would not be banned books.

BIGFOOT: Science has nothing to do with it. It’s strictly emotional. Some people feel as though certain books are harmful and they want to protect others from being harmed by those books.

MORZANT: Unless you’re psychic, how can you feel a book may explode without empirical evidence?

BIGFOOT: The people who ban books aren’t worried about explosions or radiation. They’re afraid of exposure to harmful ideas.

MORZANT: Harmful ideas? Bigfoot, you really need to stop pulling my leg. It’s getting so I don’t believe a word you say.

BIGFOOT: I’m not pulling your leg. I wish I were.

MORZANT: You’re saying that I spent all this time looking for danger where it doesn’t exist?


MORZANT: So, it’s safe to read this copy of Lauren Myracle’s ttyl to Mortimer?

BIGFOOT: Of course.

MORZANT: Both the hardback and the paperback editions?

BIGFOOT: Absolutely.

MORZANT: What a relief. Finally, I can return to my previous studies of Earth literature. I have a theory that the recent spike in dystopian novels is inversely proportional to the decline in Earth’s polar bear population.

BIGFOOT: Have you also taken into consideration the PBF?

MORZANT: What’s that?

BIGFOOT: You’re not familiar with the Paddington Bear Factor?

MORZANT: No. Do you think there could be a connection?

BIGFOOT: Undoubtedly.

MORZANT: You’re back to pulling my leg again, aren’t you?


Monday, September 27, 2010

MOONSHOT: THE FLIGHT OF APOLLO 11 by Brian Floca (Picture Book)

The Second Meeting of the Cryptid Book Club

Date: Monday, September 27, 2010
Location: Undisclosed
Members substantially present:
Bigfoot, Morzant, Briar, Beverly, Norman, Oliver, Lenny, Violet
Member virtually present via video conferencing:
Penny C. Monster
Members absent:
Meetings minutes taken by:
Penny C. Monster
Snack Master:
Book (selected by Morzant):
(Atheneum-Simon & Schuster, 2009)

• Meeting called to order by Bigfoot at 9:00 a.m.

• Refreshments taken. This week’s Snack Master, Norman, brought gummy worms. Bigfoot refrained from commenting on how much he likes donuts. Morzant tried to share the results of his latest experiments on the tensile properties of Rice Krispies Treats. Briar distracted him by calling his attention to the tensile properties of the gummy worms. Morzant expressed fascination in the tensile properties of gummy worms and suggested the meeting time be used to study those properties. Briar reminded Morzant that he was the one who picked the book to discuss. Morzant still insisted on a vote being taken to use the meeting to study the tensile properties of gummy worms rather than to discuss MOONSHOT: THE FLIGHT OF APOLLO 11. The result of the vote was 7 to 2 against studying the tensile properties of gummy worms. (Violet voted with Morzant so he wouldn’t feel lonely.)

• Book club members took their seats at the meeting table, checking first that Bigfoot did not bring his whoopee cushions again. He did not.

• Previous meeting minutes reviewed: Beverly brought Rice Krispies Treats. Morzant demanded a vote to use the meeting to study the tensile properties of the Rice Krispies Treats rather than to discuss the book. The attendees voted 5 to 1 against the motion. An attempt was made to discuss KEEPER by Kathi Appelt (selected by Beverly). Morzant hijacked the meeting with endless questions about which of many creatures are real and which are fictitious. Bigfoot provided dubious answers. Bigfoot issued a moratorium on Rice Krispies Treats at future meetings.

• There appeared to be something wrong with the video conferencing equipment. The substantially present members continued talking, but the virtually present member (me) could not hear them. I waved, splashed, and screamed to get their attention so they would know I couldn’t hear them. This went on for a long time before the substantially present book club members burst out with audible laughter and congratulations for Bigfoot on his clever practical joke at my expense.

• Morzant then began the book discussion by explaining that he selected the picture book MOONSHOT: THE FLIGHT OF APOLLO 11 to help “avoid the possibility for tangental discussions” such as occurred in the last meeting. He explained that by choosing a book with a “delightfully absurb premise—that of humans landing on the Earth’s moon” there would be no need for him to monopolize the meeting with endless questions about what was real and what was not real since “the whole book is unmistakably fiction." Beverly said, “I’m out of here,” and excused herself from the meeting.

Here’s a partial transcript of the ensuing exchange:

BIGFOOT: MOONSHOT is non-fiction. Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins all went to the moon. Armstrong and Aldrin actually walked on the moon.

BRIAR: It’s true, Morzant.

MORZANT: I see what’s happening here. During the last book club meeting you all got me to believe in leprechauns and grizzly bears. Now you’re trying to convince the gullible alien from another planet that humans have been to the moon. Admirable effort, but ultimately unsuccessful. While a Chupacabra has a ring of truth to it, not so a human lunar landing. Now to continue the book discussion, I'd like to commend the author for his deft crafting of plot and skillfully rendered illustrations, all of which made it easy for me to suspend my disbelief and go along with notion of humans in space. I found this book highly entertaining in its fantasticalogicalness.

BRIAR: That's not a real word, Morzant.

MORZANT: I know. The whismy of the book is making me feel quite silly.

PENNY: Honestly. This book is based on real events. Three American astronauts went to the moon in July of 1969. Two of those astronauts landed on it.

NORMAN: And there’s proof. What’s left of the cheese platter they brought back is on display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. They let visitors sample from it if they bring their own crackers.

BRIAR: You're not helping, Norman.

BIGFOOT: And this was only the first lunar landing. Twelve humans have walked on the moon.

MORZANT: Making the story more fantastical is not making it more believable, I assure you.

BIGFOOT: I promise, we’re not pulling your leg. Except for the part about the cheese.

• While Morzant worked his way through the seven stages of skepticism, the rest of the group talked about the book:

Bigfoot appreciated how informative the book was without being overly technical.

Briar agreed. She was impressed with the author’s use of poetic language throughout to make readers feel the power of the rocket that launched Apollo 11, the vastness of space, the moon’s desolation, the isolation of the astronauts during the mission, and the world's shared pride in the Apollo 11 mission. She especially loved how the words and the illustrations worked together to build tension and suspense for an event that most readers, psychics and non-psychics alike, already knew the outcome of. Even though she knew in advance that the astronauts had landed on the moon and safely returned home, there were moments while reading the book when she felt afraid for the men who were so far away from Earth that they could not be rescued if anything were to go wrong.

Violet commented on the drawings. She really liked the one where a sandwich and a tube of toothpaste are floating in the ship. She thought this showed that the astronauts were telekinetic, like her, and that she would probably make a good astronaut because “it’s easy to make a tube of toothpaste float.” Morzant, who seemed to have finally completed the seventh stage of skepticism (acceptance), interrupted Violet to explain gravity to her. Briar diffused what threatened to become a lengthy lecture on gravity by offering Morzant more gummy worms.

Lenny said he thought he'd make a good astronaut, too, since he can already do somersaults in the air. He likes the idea of going so high above Earth and reaching the moon. Bigfoot reminded Lenny that he’s only allowed to levitate as high as the pine tree with the branch that looks like a tuning fork. Morzant explained that if Lenny levitated as high as the moon he’d need a special suit like the astronauts in the book used. Briar diffused what threatened to become a lengthy lecture on atmosphere, vacuums, and radiation by mentioning to Morzant that gummy foods also come bear-shaped. Lenny speculated on where he might get a space suit. He considered contacting Binky (of BINKY THE SPACE CAT and BINKY TO THE RESCUE by Ashley Spires). Norman reminded Lenny that Binky is just a character in a book, at which point Morzant regressed to the third stage of skepticism (bargaining) and yelled, “Ah, ha! If Binky is fictional, then somebody named Buzz must also be fictional!”

Oliver’s favorite part of the book was when the astronauts saw Earth from the moon and when the author said the astronauts were looking at everybody on the planet all at once. Oliver liked imagining that. He also liked the drawings showing what a family on Earth was doing during the moon landing. They were listening and waiting and worrying along with the rest of the world. Then when the astronauts announced they were on the moon, everybody was happy. Even without telepathy, the world shared this big happening all together.

I shared my family’s story about the lunar landing. At family reunions, my great uncle Bill used to tell us about how he was swimming nearby when the astronauts' ship returned to Earth and landed in the Pacific Ocean. He played truth or dare with the astronauts while they waited for a helicopter to come pick them up. Great Uncle Bill dared Neil Armstrong to moon the helicopter pilot. No matter how much we would beg, he would never tell us if Neil Armstrong did it.

Norman liked the book, too, but said that he wished the author had written about the cheese collection process and the lunar lemurs who helped the astronauts plant the American flag by digging a hole for the pole. This prompted the following exchange:

MORZANT: I was on the Earth's moon before and I never saw any lunar lemurs.

NORMAN: Sadly, they became extinct shortly after the first lunar landing. Buzz Aldrin's cold sore virus wiped them out.

BRIAR: Norman, you're really, really, really not helping.

Wrap up:
• Briar was assigned to be Snack Master for next meeting.

• Penny is to pick the next book.

• As Club President, Bigfoot issued a moratorium on gummy worms, gummy bears, and any other gummy derivation.

• Meeting adjourned at 10:20 a.m.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

DAYDREAMS OF A SOLITARY HAMSTER by Astrid Desbordes (Picture Book)

A Book Review by Briar

You might wonder what a psychic beagle likes to read. Being psychic is about big picture flashes, so I’m hardly ever caught off-guard by a plot twist. I can sense a book will have a cliffhanger ending the second I turn the first page. But surprises in books are about more than unexpected developments, suspenseful moments, and unanswered questions. (I know the answers to those before the sequels come out anyway.) Surprises also come with beautifully described details and rhythmic language. They come when a new idea or a long-forgotten memory is triggered. Surprises come when a writer can make you see or smell or hear or feel something as if you're experiencing it firsthand. Those sensations can be more vivid to me than my psychic visions.

What never fails to surprise me, what seems almost supernatural, is when a single book reveals something new each time I read it. An example of a book like this is DAYDREAMS OF A SOLITARY HAMSTER by Astrid Desbordes, illustrated by Pauline Martin, translated from French by Claudia Bedrick (Enchanted Lion Books, 2010).

DAYDREAMS OF A SOLITARY HAMSTER is sort of a picture book and sort of a comic book. It’s made up of a series of short comics that tie together a story. On the surface, the story is simple: A conceited hamster plans to have a birthday party.

I read DAYDREAMS OF A SOLITARY HAMSTER the first time with Oliver, Lenny, and Violet. We laughed together at Hamster’s self-centered and rude acts, like when he assigns presents for his friends to bring to his birthday party. He struggles with how to invite Rabbit, who’s sort of his unwitting nemesis, finally deciding to send a disinvitation instead. Then there’s the comic where Hamster decides to sleep under the stars, not so he can enjoy the stars but so that they can enjoy gazing at him. We liked the sweet scenes of friendship when Mole offers kind words to Hedgehog who wishes he were soft like the other animals, and when Mole shares her secret with Snail, that she’s writing a novel. The puppies liked the end when Hamster gets a present he didn’t ask for—a song sung by his friends in his honor—and it’s his favorite present of all.

When I read DAYDREAMS OF A SOLITARY HAMSTER a second time, I noticed things I hadn’t before. For all his boasting, Hamster is actually insecure. He keeps a diary, and in it he embellishes how much he is adored by his friends. In the comic where he is allowing the stars to gaze upon him, his arrogance is undermined by his fear that, from so far away, the stars won’t recognize him as the hamster he is.

In fact, during the second reading, I noticed that all the characters are insecure. They long to find their place in the world and to be seen for who they are. Snail moves so slowly that he is often overlooked by those bustling around him; he feels invisible. Mole tries to be special by writing a novel and then revealing that part of herself to her friends. Hedgehog’s quills make him feel different from the others. Hamster is jealous of his friends’ admiration for Rabbit. At the end of the book, at the party, each of the characters’ need to be recognized and valued is met in some way. In Hamster’s case, it’s the song—directed by party-crasher Rabbit, no less—his friends sing to him about how wonderful he is that lets him know, even with his many shortcomings, he is appreciated.

On the third reading, I found new ways I related to each of the characters as they experienced discontent, doubt, and joy. I don’t know what I’ll find the next time I read DAYDREAMS OF A SOLITARY HAMSTER, and that's amazing. For a psychic beagle, surprises are hard to come by.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Briar’s Journal (September 28 to October 19, 2010)

Dream Entry

Date: August 14, 2003*

It’s a sunshiny day. I’m walking by the library when I hear a sound like ice cubes being cracked out of their tray, but a hundred times louder. It scares me, so I run into the library through the dog door. When I get inside, the sound is even louder. Bigfoot is standing in the lobby. He’s holding a hammer and a bucket of ice.

“I’m glad you’re here,” he says.

As he leads me through the rows of book shelves, he tells me that he needs me to move all the books out of the library until they have finished putting in the ski slope. We pass a shelf labeled 790–799. On the other side of it is a huge trench in the middle of the floor. It’s wider than makes sense for the size of the library, and so deep I can’t see the bottom. Morzant is at the edge of the trench. He’s wearing a scarf and mittens and holding a huge tube that’s spitting out chips of ice and snow.

Bigfoot takes me to the shelves labeled with my friends’ names, and the three names I know only from my last dream about the library: Oliver, Lenny, and Violet. And this time there’s also a shelf with my name on it.

In front of these shelves are nine red wagons. Each wagon has one of our names painted on the side with what smells like mustard. I lick off the “T” in “Bigfoot.” It tastes like strawberry jelly.

The lower shelves are empty. All the books I’m supposed to move are too high for me to reach. I ask Bigfoot how I can get to them, but he is gone. In his place is a beagle puppy with a purple collar.

“I can help,” she says.

She stares at the top of Bigfoot’s shelf and the books there start to quiver. One falls down, almost hitting me on the head. Then the book lifts from the floor and floats towards Bigfoot’s wagon. The puppy stares at the book as it hovers over the wagon. As she nods her head, the book drops into the wagon. She turns to the shelf again, and another book comes down. This one doesn’t fall. This happens again and again until the shelves are empty and each of the wagons is full of books.

“See you later,” the puppy says.

She scampers off to some other part of the library. I hear two different voices greet her and then the sound of toenails clacking on the tiled floor as they run off.

Luckily I wake up before I have to haul the wagons.

These are the book titles I can remember:

In BIGFOOT’s Wagon:


by John Gosselink



October 1, 2010


with illustrations by Adam Rex


Simon & Schuster

October 5, 2010

In MORZANT’s Wagon:

BRAIN JACK by Brian Falkner


Random House

September 28, 2010


by Brian Yansky



October 12, 2010



Simon & Schuster

October 12, 2010

In PENNY’s Wagon:

BLOOD ON MY HANDS by Todd Strasser


Egmont USA

September 28, 2010

EMPTY by Suzanne Weyn



October 1, 2010



Arthur A. Levine-Scholastic

October 1, 2010

SUSPECT by Kristin Wolden Nitz



October 1, 2010



Balzer & Bray-HarperCollins

October 5, 2010

BEAUTIFUL DARKNESS by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl


Little, Brown

October 12, 2010

TRASH by Andy Mulligan


David Fickling-Random House

October 12, 2010

In NORMAN’s Wagon:




October 1, 2010

THE MEMORY BANK by Carolyn Coman,

with illustrations by Rob Shepperson


Arthur A. Levine-Scholastic

October 1, 2010



Little, Brown

October 5, 2010


with illustrations by Kurt Cyrus


Simon & Schuster

October 19, 2010

In BEVERLY’s Wagon:

PENNY DREADFUL by Laurel Snyder,

with illustrations by Abigail Halpin


Random House

September 28, 2010

YOU ARE NOT HERE by Samantha Schutz



October 1, 2010

I WILL SAVE YOU by Matt de la Peña


Delacorte-Random House

October 12, 2010

ZORA AND ME by Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon



October 12, 2010

CROSSING OVER by Anna Kendall



October 14, 2010

In MY Wagon:



by Alessandro Ferrari, illustrated by Antonello Dalena


BOOM! Studios

October 12, 2010

In OLIVER’s Wagon:




September 28, 2010

ART & MAX by David Wiesner


Clarion-Houghton Mifflin

October 4, 2010

In LENNY’s Wagon:

13 Words by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Maira Kalman



October 5, 2010

SOCKSQUATCH by Frank W. Dormer


Henry Holt

October 12, 2010

In VIOLET’s Wagon:

BABYMOUSE #13: CUPCAKE TYCOON by Jennifer L. Holm, illustrated by Matt Holm


Random House

September 28, 2010




September 28, 2010




October 12, 2010

* The dream entries from Briar’s journal contain premonitions of books that will be published in the future. Briar’s dream self foresees the books’ summaries and knows which will likely appeal to each of her friends. Briar always wakes up before she can see whether her friends will enjoy the books.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Briar the Psychic Beagle, Interview

Tuesdays with Morzant: Getting to Know a Reader

Hi, there. Briar here in Morzant’s lab. Morzant is supposed to interview me today, but he’s going to be late because his toaster is about to burst into flames. I’d hate for you to have to wait, so I’ll get things started by answering the questions I predict he’d ask if pumpernickel weren’t so combustible.

Here we go.

Yes. No. In the year 2027. One time when I chased a squirrel up a tree, but never since. Fifteen, maybe sixteen. Excess orange rinds. Huey, Louie, and Dewey, in that order. Walla Walla, Washington. Peanut butter cookies. Sometimes rolling on a dead fish can help. CLIFFORD THE BIG RED DOG. Working on my own graphic novel. I’m not sure. A large meteor.

Well. That didn’t take too long, did it? I sense Morzant has put out the fire. If you’d like, I could share my most recent vision with you to pass the time while we wait for Morzant to join us. In the vision, I saw a giant armadillo buttering a piece of burnt toast. He offered me a bite, then grabbed it away and started lecturing me on the importance of cleaning toast gunk out of the toaster. I was sure that could mean only one thing—oh, here he is. Morzant, I mean. Not the giant armadillo.

[Morzant enters.]

MORZANT: I’m sorry I’m late. My toaster caught on fire!

BRIAR: I hope it’s okay that I started the interview without you since I knew the questions you were going to ask.

MORZANT: Your ability to predict future events is astounding. The scientist in me wonders how your psychic ability works and why, when you knew in advance the questions I intended to ask you, you didn’t also know about the piece of pumpernickel that had wedged itself dangerously in my toaster’s heating element.

BRIAR: Actually, I did. I had a vision where a giant armadillo—

MORZANT: You knew?


MORZANT: Forgive me, but why then didn’t you come warn me about my impending toaster crisis rather than come to my lab to conduct your own interview?

BRIAR: Oh. I didn’t think of that.

MORZANT: No harm done. Aside from the scorched ceiling tiles and melted countertop. And incinerated pumpernickel, of course. Let’s continue the interview, shall we? Where did you leave off?

BRIAR: I answered all your questions.

MORZANT: Even the one about what causes Bigfoot’s photography impediment?

BRIAR: Yes, I said— uh-oh. Morzant? I think you’d better get back to your ship.


BRIAR: You won’t believe what the giant armadillo just told me about your blender.

MORZANT: Good-bye for now, humans. This concludes another interview. Please come back next week when I hope I can offer you a delicious pumpernickel smoothie.

Monday, September 20, 2010

I’M THE BEST by Lucy Cousins (Picture Book)

A Book Review by Violet (all on her own)

This is my second book review and I think you will like it because I wrote one review already and that was good practice and I am probably going to get even better at writing reviews and I pick out the best books to read and review. You might not like my review because maybe I need even more practice. But I know you will like the book anyway because it is so good.

I’M THE BEST (Candlewick, 2010) is about a dog named Dog. He wears colorful checkered pants. The pants don’t have anything to do with the story. I just like them.

Everybody likes to be the best at something, but Dog gets greedy and wants to be the best at everything and then he wants to make sure that all his friends know he’s the best at everything. He has four friends. He has a ladybug friend named Ladybug, a mole friend named Mole, a goose friend named Fred (just kidding, the goose friend is named Goose), and a donkey friend named Donkey.

Dog has a contest with Ladybug and a contest with Mole and a contest with Goose and a contest with Donkey. Dog wins them all. I won’t tell you what all of the contests are because you can read the book and see for yourself. But I will give an example and that example is that Dog has a swimming contest with Donkey. Dog doggy paddles and Donkey donkey paddles and Dog doggy paddles faster than Donkey donkey paddles so Dog wins the swimming race. And then he says “I win. I’m the best.” He says that every time he wins a contest with his friends and he wins all the contests. And winning all the contests makes him so happy he does a happy dance and he says “I’m the best at everything!” And that is one of my favorite pages because Dog is so happy and there is a lot of happy color that looks like fireworks and confetti and happiness exploding.

But then you turn the happy page and see his friends are sad because they aren’t the best at anything and that makes them sad because it’s fun to be the best at something. But they lost all the contests so they are sad. This page doesn’t have exploding colors of happiness. It has sad, mopey faces of sadness.

But Mole reminds them that they are the best at something. Dog and Goose had a contest about digging holes and—oops, I wasn’t going to tell you about the other contests but I just did and I didn’t mean to but since I already did I will tell you what I was going to say. Dog won the digging contest and said “I win. I’m the best.” But he was wrong. He won that contest with Goose but then he has the same digging contest with Mole and he loses so this time Mole gets to say “I win. I’m the best.” And that makes Mole happy. But that makes Dog sad. And they have more contests and Dog loses them all because Goose can goosey paddle faster than Dog can doggy paddle and so Goose wins the swimming contest. Goose is happy and Dog is sad. And then Dog loses contests with Ladybug and Donkey. And he is really sad. He isn’t the best at anything any more.

Dog is feeling really sad now that he has lost all the contests and isn’t the best at anything. Then he knows how sad his friends felt when they lost all the contests and thought they weren’t the best at anything. And that makes Dog really, really sad because now he knows that he hurt their feelings. He says he is sorry to all of his friends. And guess what? They forgive him. And because he is such a good friend to say he is sorry it turns out that he is the best at something. He is their best friend. And he also has the best fluffy ears. And so the book is over and everybody is happy and everybody is the best at something. And then the last page is funny because Dog is still Dog and he brags that having the best fluffy ears is the best best thing. But I don’t think his friends will be mad or sad because they know how he is and they love him. And I love this book and I love writing reviews and I think I am the best at writing reviews. Well, maybe not the best best, but pretty best.