Peggy Rathmann's Officer Buckle and Gloria
Children's book review by Steve Barancik
Friends who form a perfect fit
Officer Buckle is the safety officer for the town of Napville. His shoulder patch features the international "No Banana Peels" sign. He knows every safety tip there is.
Safety Tip #77: Never stand on a swivel chair.
This well intentioned officer's job is to tell the children of Napville how to be safe. But he has a problem with his style of presentation. He tends to put the kids to sleep.
Enter Gloria. Gloria has her own limitations, most notably that she's incapable of speech.
This probably has something to do with the fact that she's a dog.
Since Gloria is a police dog, Officer Buckle takes her to one of his presentations. Suddenly, the children sit up and take notice!
Has Officer Buckle's stage presence improved? He thinks so. But what's really happening is that canine savant Gloria is acting out the dangerous scenarios her human companion describes. And she manages to do this without his noticing.
She is Gracie to his George, Costello to his Abbott, Laurel to his Hardy. Of course, George, Bud and Oliver all knew they were playing the "straight man." Officer Buckle has no idea.
It isn't until one of his now overbooked presentations plays on the local news that Officer Buckle realizes what's going on.
At first he isn't pleased. But friends who are meant for each other have a tendency to find their way back to each others' good graces.
Author-illustrator Peggy Rathmann won a Caldecott Medal for her artwork here, in particular her hilarious depictions of Gloria.
(Gloria's performance of Safety Tip #99: Do Not Go Swimming During Electrical Storms is not to be missed!)
There are cute schoolkids throughout, and a no-harm-done disaster at the end that proves Officer Buckle and Gloria belong together. (It turns out Gloria needs a "straight man" just as much as Officer Buckle needs some comic relief.)
In the end, Officer Buckle and Gloria is a sweet friendship story about two beings who complete each other. How nice that fate brought them together!
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