BUBBA AND BEAU, BEST FRIENDS

Kathi Appelt, Author, Arthur Howard, Illustrator , illus. Arthur Howard. Harcourt $16 (32p) ISBN 978-0-15-202060-6

When baby Bubba is born, his father, Big Bubba, "revved up Earl, his trusty pickup truck, and honked the horn as loud as he could." Likewise, when puppy Beau arrives, bloodhound Maurice "threw his head back and began to bay." The proud human and canine poppas are shown howling together in the bed of the pickup. Following this celebration, Bubba and Beau become inseparable. In brief chapters, the buddies crawl in the mud, inhale the "smelly smell" of their shared blanket and seem stunned after Bubba's Mama Pearl gives them a soapy scrubbing. "Sister, those two got along," writes Appelt (Elephants Aloft), warmly conveying the twosome's attachment. Howard (Hoodwinked), who sketches in a loose charcoal line and transparent watercolor, shows the characters sticking together; a curious Beau watches Bubba and vice versa during the bath sequence. Howard alludes to a Texas setting by placing a state flag on Earl's antenna and longhorns on the hood plus picturing Big Bubba in a ranch shirt, with a belly that overlaps his belt buckle. All the hounds wear bandannas, and Mama Pearl looks comfy in scuffed cowboy boots and a housedress when she hangs out the wash. Appelt's fond voice and Howard's good-humored drawings combine to suggest an easygoing, distinctly Texan family life. Ages 2-5. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 04/08/2002
Release date: 04/01/2002
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