Monday, February 10, 2014
A Bed for Fred, by Lori Zoss (illustrated by Cheri Polk)
Author: Lori Zoss
Illustrator: Cheri Polk
Publisher: Hugo House Publishers
Publication Date: November 12, 2013
View on Amazon
I had high hopes for this book based solely on the cover, but I was disappointed. The writing is poor and relies far too much on long passages of mediocre rhymes that are both trite and overwrought. And the art is simply not strong enough to make up for it (of course even the best art cannot compensate for bad writing, but it can sometimes help gloss over minor flaws).
The real problem here is the plot. Even the simplest of children's books must at least make sense. The premise is that a puppy named Fred discovers one day that both his bed and his father (also a dog) are missing. He spends the day searching for them only to discover that his father was out getting a new bed for Fred, as he had apparently outgrown the old one. This doesn't make any sense for a number of reasons. First of all, Fred is depicted as more dog-like than person-like (he sleeps on the floor in a house, he doesn't wear clothes) so he should have dog-like problems. Dogs don't have their beds taken away by their fathers. It makes no sense.
It's obviously meant to be an allegory for toddlers outgoing their baby beds and getting new ones, but it's a clumsy allegory. It would have been better if Fred were a "person-like animal" throughout, like Franklin or Arthur. Then at least it would have made sense.
Of course even if we accepted that this book was meant to help toddlers through the transition or getting a big kid bed, I'd still question how helpful it would be. I hardly think the notion of having your dad go missing for a whole day only to find out he threw your bed away without telling you would be one that most children would find comforting.