________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 5. . . .September 30, 2011


Bud the Spud.

Stompin' Tom Connors. Illustrated by Brenda Jones.
Halifax, NS: Nimbus, 2011.
16 pp., board, $12.95.
ISBN 978-1-55109-811-1.

Preschool / Birth-age 4.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

** /4



It's Bud the Spud, from the bright red mud,
Rollin' down the highway smilin',
The spuds are big on the back of Bud's rig,
They're from Prince Edward Island,
They're from Prince Edward Island.


Board books play a variety of important roles in babies'/toddlers' development. They are usually a child's first introduction to the world of books, and their thick pages can readily stand up to the rough handling they receive, including their having to substitute upon occasion as soothers and teething rings. Parents use board books to introduce their youngsters to the alphabet and numbers and to expand their children's vocabularies. And board books with simple story lines entertain young listeners and introduce them to the wonderful world of "story" that awaits them. Though deceptively simple in their appearance, excellent board books demand much from authors and illustrators.

internal art     Unfortunately (my value judgement), recent years have seen an increasing number of Canadian publishers transforming previously published picture books into board books, and with very mixed results. While I always hope that youngsters who later encounter the picture book on which a board book has been based will actually read it, I fear that they will more likely adopt a "been there, done that" attitude and simply bypass it.

      Bud the Spud was originally published as a 24-page picture book in 1994 (reprinted 2002) [See review at CM Archive, Vol. 22, No. 5, October 1994], and it contained the lyrics of Stompin' Tom Connors' song that was released in 1969. Comparing the board book with the original picture book shows few changes with the largest difference being found in the two books' lengths, 16 pages vs. 24 pages. The "loss" of pages can be largely attributed to the fact that the picture book had an introductory double page wordless spread that established the PEI setting and concluded with a two-page rendering of the song's words and a final one-page closing image of Bud and his dog sitting around a campfire, all of which have been excluded from the board book. As well, because the dimensions of the board book are smaller than the picture book, all of the images have been slightly cropped.

      The content of Bud the Spud is simply too sophisticated for its "new" younger audience. For example, how many toddlers know that "Sebagoes" are a variety of potato or that "Tormentine" is a ferry terminal in New Brunswick? Bud's trucking journey from PEI, through New Brunswick and the Province of Quebec, to his delivery point in Toronto, will have no meaning to youngsters whose "knowledge" of the world will likely be limited to their immediate neighbourhood.
Jones's cartoon-style illustrations are engaging, and her inclusion of a dog as Bud's travelling companion offers a bit of a wordless subplot for youngsters who become aware/are made aware of the dog's continuing presence.

      As Bud the Spud was originally a rollicking song, its transformation into a book requires the adult reader to breathe some life back into the lyrics - a very tough task. Perhaps the best way to "read" Bud the Spud is to actually let Stompin' Tom do the reading. Videos on YouTube offers many choices.

Recommended with reservations.

Dave Jenkinson, CM's editor, lives in Winnipeg, MB.

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

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