If you’ve never read a book by Mark Teague, you’re missing out on an entertaining opportunity. Teague has written and illustrated more than 20 picture books that appeal to both children and adults. Teague’s wonderful acrylic illustrations have a 40s style mix of reality and fantasy that suits his inventive imagination.
In 2002, he created a dog named Ike who gets into imaginative adventures with his owner, Mrs. LaRue. On this latest adventure, LaRue Across America, Ike is forced to go on a road trip with Mrs. LaRue and her neighbors’ two cats. You know you’re in for fun when the story begins with headlines from the Snort City Register/Gazette: Leona Hibbins has been rushed to the hospital due to a heat wave and the tragedy has left her two cats stranded. As a result, Mrs. LaRue graciously offers to take the cats and opts for a driving tour instead of the cruise she’d been planning. Ike writes a travelogue through a series of quirky postcards from such cities as Bumbletub, Ohio and Minnebuckbuck, Michigan.
The book is recommended for children age 4 – 8, but I think the humor and vocabulary are pretty sophisticated. Words such as manic, wistfully, and frolicsome are tossed about by the self-righteous Ike, who must endure his traveling companions’ constant pranks. My seven-year old granddaughter, who loves geography, enjoyed trying to pronounce the hilarious names of the cities where they stopped, and named all the state capitals on the U.S. map inside the books’ covers.
Teague’s book made my granddaughter and me smile with each turn of the page.