Guru Guru Pon-Chan

Satomi Ikezawa, Author, Douglas Varenas, Translator . Del Rey $10.95 (192p) ISBN 978-0-345-48095-8

The theme of this goofy shape-changing story recalls Othello by the same author: a caring boy can rescue a mentally challenged transforming girl. Pon-chan is a playful Labrador retriever puppy, and her inadvertently destructive behavior disrupts her family. Then Grandpa invents a bone that's supposed to allow pets to talk, but when Pon-chan swallows it, she turns into a little girl. At first, the humor revolves around the expected contrast between dog and human behavior: it's a bit shocking to see a naked child pooping on the lawn or jumping unashamedly on a stranger. The silly stuff is just a setup for a more meaningful story line, though, as Pon-chan falls in love with the neighbor boy. Several months later, she's an adult dog, which makes her a teenager who must be sneaked into school when she transforms. She learns to speak, but she's still a dog mentally, sticking her head out the school bus window or fetching a Frisbee in her teeth. The cartoony art is full of caricatures, with frequently exaggerated expressions to sell the emotion. Although much of the book is broad comedy, the emotional underpinnings give the story a sweetly appealing side as well. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 08/15/2005
Release date: 07/01/2005
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