________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 32 . . . . April 20, 2012


The French Fry King.

Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 2012.
32 pp., hardcover, $19.99.
ISBN 978-1-77049-350-6.

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7.

Review by Valerie Nielsen.

*** /4



Roger was a long sausage dog with big ideas. He liked to wander around town asking himself all sorts of questions.

Questions like: “If I had a human girlfriend, would we hold hands or paws? “If humans were dogs, would they build doghouse skyscrapers?”

Roger was NOT the kind of dog who chased mail carriers, or chewed bicycle tires, or barked at cars. That was boring. Instead, Roger preferred to think.

What Roger prefers to think about is his future—what he could do and be if only he were human. One evening, his thinking is interrupted by an old lady who passes his park bench leaving in her wake a trail of potatoes. Without another thought, Roger takes matters into his own paws, gathers up the potatoes and begins peeling. At the speed of light, Roger opens up his French fry stand wowing everyone in town with his delectable product. Deciding to share his cooking skills with the world, Roger travels the world serving curried French fries in India, fries with salsa in Cuba, with soy sauce in Vietnam and dipped in chocolate in Kenya. He returns home in triumph to be declared Roger the French fry King. But alas! True happiness has eluded him, and, as boredom overtakes him, he must take up his search for satisfaction once again.

      The illustrator of The French Fry King is a Quebecois artist known simply as Rogé who studied graphic design at Laval and began his career as an art director for two well-established advertising agencies. He has illustrated many children’s books, advertising campaigns, posters and magazine articles. In 2006, he won the prestigious Governor General’s Literary Award for his illustrations in Lili Chartrand’s critically acclaimed picture book, Taming Horrible Harry.

internal art      There is no doubt that Rogé is a talented artist with a gift for illustrating books for the very young. His pages are full of boldly drawn, imaginative characters who inhabit a colourful, richly detailed environment. The story of Roger, the ambitious sausage dog, replete with its “dare-to-dream” theme, however, is not quite up to the quality of the author’s engaging illustrations. Although children are well known for an ability to willingly suspend their beliefs (and immensely forgiving on the topic of narrative impossibilities) the silliness of the plot of The French Fry King, coupled with the lightning speed at which it develops, detracts from the book’s likelihood of intellectually or emotionally engaging young listeners.

      Librarians who choose to spend the twenty dollars for this book will enjoy displaying the free poster with recipes for Roger and Charlotte’s Royal Shepherd’s Pie which comes with the book. As a read-aloud for the seven and under crowd, The French Fry King will no doubt offer an opportunity to enjoy sharing Roge’s amusing pictures and perhaps discussing the more implausible features of the story.

Recommended with reservations.

A retired teacher-librarian, Valerie Nielsen lives in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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