Dad’s Bug Bear

Peter Dixon, ill. Natalie Chivers

Red Fox


Aug 2006

The wonderfully exuberant story and illustrations that together form the make-up of this picture-book will echo the experiences of all who have longed for a pet. Dad does not like pets, minor or more major quibbles disillusion his opinions on all animals ‘ cats miaow too much and dogs eat too much…
When Frank the goldfish dies, dad shows an almost sardonic lack of restraint in his response; ‘Never mind, son’. Mum is more considerate towards the loss suggesting a special cheer-up treat thereby setting in motion a trip to the zoo ‘ a trip that is accompanied by a tirade on camels, elephants, giraffes, seals, penguins and rhinos by dad!
The visit to the zoo, however, is forestalled as two African elephants have pushed down the walls meaning all the animals have escaped. Concerned for the welfare of his home, dad drives the family home to find a delivery of domed dung deposited upon the doorstep.
Whilst our hero takes a bath, a tremendous paw crashes through the bathroom ceiling. Dad rises to the occasion, tapping it with the toilet brush. Endeavouring to remove the bear from the roof, the gutter, the bear, the ladder and dad all tumble. Fortunately nothing makes for a softer landing than the arms of the bear. Dad’s opinion of animals is altered slightly as he comes to appreciate the bear but readers are left to anticipate what happens next as they lift the flap to gain access to just what is concealed within the family refrigerator!
The divide between childlike rapture with animals as shared inhabitants of the world and adult disillusionment and focus on responsibility creates the tension that drives this story and which is depicted here by Natalie Chivers’ engaging collaged illustrations which perfectly compliment to the text.

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