Hondo & Fabian

by Peter McCarty

Peter McCarty's Hondo & Fabian

Children's book review by Steve Barancik

Ages 0-3

A book about separate experiences

Want to hear something bizarre? Sometimes I have to read baby books twice in order to understand them. That first time I often find myself asking, "What was the point?"

Maybe it's because

  • I'm about 48 years removed from being a baby
  • Fatherhood began for me with a child who was already three
  • As a fiction writer, I expect more stuff to happen!

Hondo & Fabian is the story of cat and dog "siblings." On this day, Hondo gets to go out while Fabian stays back with "the baby." (Human.)

The inside flap gives a clue to the book's intent.

Who will cause more trouble?

Who will have more fun?

Ah. Where is the grass greener?

Author-illustrator McCarty tells a parallel story where we see that both animals have a good time, and that's clearly the point. This book is the cure for "Why does older sibling get to go out?"

(If you don't have at least two kids, don't bother with the book.)

McCarty won a 2003 Caldecott Honor for his illustrations, gorgeous pontillist renderings (colored pencil on watercolor paper) with gentle gradations of color.

Technique aside, I found them reminiscent of the Olivia books. In fact, there's one picture of Baby carrying Fabian that will surely evoke memories from Olivia readers.

The publisher might claim that this is a book for 4-8 year olds, and others might suggest it as an Early Reader. Don't listen. As Early Readers go, it's about as action-packed as Dick and Jane.

No, Hondo and Fabian is a picture book that reads like a board book, only the gorgeous illustrations wouldn't look as good in that format. If you have a young one who despairs at being left behind, this is the book for them.

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