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Full Text Reviews:
Bulletin for the Center... - 06/01/2010 Despite his pleadings and various bargaining maneuvers, Rufus’ requests for a dog have repeatedly been denied by his work-at-home dad, a clean freak with a strict no-dogs policy. In an effort towards compromise, Rufus’ mom brings home a guinea pig one day, and, surprisingly, father and son do indeed reconcile, if only in their shared dislike of the furry rodent. The more time Rufus spends with the ironically named Fido, however, the more he realizes this is no ordinary guinea pig but a mohawked little furball who acts extraordinarily like a real dog; soon Rufus finds himself trying desperately to convince his father and his friends (and maybe even himself) that this rotund guinea dog is the ideal pet. An authentic kid voice and a bit of whimsical wish-fulfillment make for an intriguing twist on the typical boy-and-dog story. Rufus’ narration is fresh and funny, particularly when he’s poking fun at his father or observing the complex dynamics of boy-girl interactions, and his descriptions of Fido’s wiggly behind and raucous screeching only add to the story’s playful charm. Though the realistic subplots aren’t quite up to the same level, this is a bouncy and animated pet story, and youngsters hoping for their own puppy privileges will find amusement in Rufus’ triumph over the pesky rules of adults. KQG - Copyright 2010 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
School Library Journal - 09/01/2010 Gr 2–4—Fifth-grader Rufus's only wish is to get a dog, but his work-at-home dad objects. He lists numerous reasons, including that dogs lick people's faces, chase cars, and eat dead things. Rufus's mom brings home a guinea pig instead in an attempt to fulfill her son's desire for a pet. To his surprise, the guinea pig, which he names Fido, acts like a dog. She obeys his commands and chews his dad's shoes. When Rufus's family decides to return the animal to the pet store, a classmate is willing to buy her to replace her hamster. But Rufus begins to have second thoughts about relinquishing the guinea pig. Although no explanation is given for why Fido behaves like a dog, children will have no problem accepting the absurdity of the situation. Early chapter-book readers will enjoy this humorous tale.—Sarah Polace, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Parma, OH - Copyright 2010 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 06/01/2010 Jennings’ salute to kids who get less (and more) than they ask for offers a unique and hilarious take on boy-dog bonding. Fifth-grader Rufus begs for a dog, but because Dad says no (in an enumerated list), Mom brings home a guinea pig. Rufus is disappointed, and Dad is annoyed, but because the pet shop has vanished, they are stuck with a rodent that barks, fetches sticks, whines, and licks faces. Rufus is both embarrassed (what will his friends think?) and charmed by Fido’s doglike behaviors; the scale finally tips in the pig’s direction when he executes a perfect, Lassie-like rescue of his master. As he did in Faith and the Electric Dogs (1996) and more recently in We Can’t All Be Rattlesnakes (2009), Jennings injects magic realism into a story filled with believable yet flawed characters, resulting in a satisfying story. Short, manageable chapters; a breezy, conversational style; and identifiable characters (the bully, the show-off, the obsessive stay-at-home dad) make this a good choice for readers making the transition to chapter books. - Copyright 2010 Booklist.