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When Karen comes back from looking for barbecue potato chips in a garbage can that a dog is being abused, the whole group takes off to save it. Karen says that children are hitting it with a stick. And it's in a tree. Stick Dog has his doubts, but the group is first distracted by the idea of climbing trees (all "those whisker-twitching, nut-munching demons would be practically extinct" if Poo-Poo could climb trees!). When they get to the house where the abuse is occurring, they realize that the dog being hit with a stick is actually a toy unicorn that the people call a piñata. Children at the house then proceed to hit a birdie with racquets, and the dogs are convinced there is bird abuse. When the birdie gets caught in a tree, the people are all distracted by it, and leave some guacamole on the table. The dogs discuss the fact that it is probably made of boiled, mashed green birds... and that sounds tasty. They attempt to try some, but the people interrupt and bring out a bag of chips. The dogs get a taste, but are interrupted by a taco delivery. These have a promising meat smell, and while the humans go back and forth between the food and birdie in a tree, the dogs manage to cart off tacos, and even figure out that the piñata most likely contains dessert.
Good Points
Like Pixar films, Stick Dog has a child level and an adult level of humor. Stick Dog is a philosopher, and consummate manager of his tribe. He understands that they are not very smart (Karen thinks she is getting taller, when in fact the puddle in which she is standing is evaporating on a hot day), but never makes them feel bad about it. He works with them on their level to achieve the desired group goals. Plus, there is food involved. And squirrels.

While this lacks the complete and total brilliance of Stick Dog leading his tired band of friends up the hill in Stick Dog Slurps Spaghetti, it makes up for it with the kindness the dogs show in their concern for the dog being beaten by a stick, and with the goofiness of trying to get into the tree. I also adored the humans getting into the taco delivery, and the dogs having to watch out for them but ultimately getting the food for their own!

I want to bring Stick Dog and all his friends home and give them nice soft beds and regular feedings of healthy kibble, although I would keep a tiny jar of instant coffee around so Karen could have an occasional tiny sip. And a barbecue potato chip from time to time. This series has a few more titles in the work, and I will be excited to share them with readers who enjoy Peirce's Big Nate, Tashjian's Einstein, the Class Hamster, and Ahn's Pug Pals. This is a fantastic series for preschool children to have read aloud, but even my 8th graders find the adventures of Stick Dog and his friends to be hysterically funny.
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