Oh, boy, oh boy, oh boy-o! Here comes Dude, the exuberant new picture book from New York Times bestselling authors Aaron Reynolds (Creepy Carrots) Caldecott Honor, and Dan Santat, Caldecott Winner, (The Unimaginary Friend). We can now officially say goodbye to the olden days of the sometimes overly quiet and delicate stories, and fully enter the raucous era of high voltage adventure, as more authors take on early childhood with a fasten-your-seatbelt approach both in the text and visual style.
A platypus and a beaver, pals, are on a beach inlet sporting their boards. They call each other “dude.” Careful readers will spot a clue on page one: a tail peeking up out of the water, with an exclamation mark. Right away, we have to turn the page.
When we do, we’re rewarded with the two ebullient friends rushing in with their surf boards, screaming: Duuude! Everyone could use a day with these two as they swim and splat until . . . one of our dudes spots the tale we only saw in the distance. It’s a shark. They frantically try to escape. The shark looms ominously large. But hey, he can be a dude too! Just offer him your ice cream cone. Who knew sharks could be so much fun? And even surf?
But a wave throws them all topsy turvy onto the sand and destroys their boards. But maybe, just maybe a very large dude can offer the best ride ever. And at the end of the day, even take a moment to watch the sun set licking delicious ice cream cones.
Picture books can to lots of things. They can bring readers into new worlds, offer fresh experiences with language and illustration, they can present subtle messages about life, values, entertain, crack jokes, and they can reflect back to children their own emotional realities.
They can also simply be fun. Dude is unexpurgated raucous fun with lots of visual puns and quotes. Where’s the beach?