cover image Bean Dog and Nugget: The Ball

Bean Dog and Nugget: The Ball

Charise Mericle Harper. Knopf, $4.99 trade paper (48p) ISBN 978-0-307-97707-6

Harper (the Just Grace novels) demonstrates that less is indeed more in this quirky buddy-comedy sketch, first in the Bean Dog and Nugget series. Minimalist, two-color cartoons in orange and gray appear within rectangular panels, and Harper portrays her two protagonists as inflated stick figures—Bean Dog has a tall oval shape, tiny Nugget is round—with facial expressions that drive the story’s humor. The dialogue, delivered in speech balloons, is similarly streamlined and snappy, and at times laugh-out-loud funny. Bean Dog is enamored of his new ball, but he isn’t very good at sharing or playing nice. After he nails Nugget in the head with it (“Think fast, Nugget! Catch!”), he gets upset when it bounces into the bushes (“That was a bad catch”). They throw their shoes into the bush in hopes of knocking the ball out, but it takes a transformation into makeshift superheroes (after a particularly funny extended riff on the line, “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”) to retrieve it. Bean Dog and Nugget squabble over sweet treats in The Cookie, due simultaneously. Ages 5–8. Agent: Amy Rennert, Amy Rennert Agency. (May)■