Are bullies just lonely and misunderstood? It's a hot topic, and where readers stand may determine their willingness to embrace this story and its cast of anthropomorphic dogs. Astrid is "a cranky, crabby troll," declares Brennan's (Dirtball Pete) put-upon narrator, an unlucky neighbor of Astrid. "She loved to destroy any fun I had planned./ She'd squirt-gun chalk drawings, topple my lemonade stand." But when Astrid takes a tumble on her bike, the narrator seizes the moment to confront her ("Why? Why are you mean to me?") and discovers that "my abominable new neighbor could really use a friend." Most readers--especially those who may have been bullied themselves--will probably feel that Astrid's redemption is earned far too easily. And that's too bad, because Dunnick's (Creak! Said the Bed) cartoon art is first-rate. His penciled textures and pops of offbeat color give the pictures the hip look of contemporary animation, while his sense of action and pacing is faultless. In fact, Astrid's bike crash (and yes, she's wearing a helmet, albeit a skull-emblazed one) is one of the most vivid in recent memory. Ages 3-6. (May)[Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC
PreS-Gr 1--A pudgy, long-eared dog moves into the neighborhood and starts terrorizing her neighbor, a smaller, blue-faced pup. Astrid's mean-spirited shenanigans are recounted in bouncy verse littered with some fun vocabulary that occasionally forces the rhyme and does not scan well, but not enough to truly mar this book. "In her bike helmet painted/with a skull and crossbones,/she tore up the sidewalk/like a mini-cyclone." When Bad Astrid gets herself into trouble and her kindhearted neighbor helps her out, they become friends. Dunnick's funny cartoons lighten the mood. Readers will giggle at Astrid flying through the air, underpants showing, while they learn a simple lesson. Libraries that need more titles on bullying should consider purchasing this just-shy-of-didactic look at the mean kid who needs a little love and attention.--Angela J. Reynolds, Annapolis Valley Regional Library, Bridgetown, NS, Canada[Page 126]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.