Friendship, Blendship: Bogart and Vinnie by Audrey Vernick
VINNIE, A CRAZY-HAPPY DOG, WAS LOST.
"THE BOY! WHERE IS THE BOY? WHICH WAY IS HOME? WHEW!"
Young Vinnie is in a jam! He has no idea how to find his boy and happy home, and following his nose, he finds himself inside a nature preserve with lots of animals, but no boy. He knows that he needs a friend--quick! He tries a cat-- with predictable results.
"DO YOU LIKE ME?" he pants.
Fat chance! A kindly caretaker spots Vinnie and tries to warn him that wild animals can be dangerous, but Vinnie zooms off, the eternal optimist, sure that he can find someone to friend him among all these guys.
But coming on too strong doesn't endear him to the zoo gang. Vinnie strikes out with a giraffe (tall friend?), a tiger (striped friend?), a cheetah (spotted friend?), and a group of raucous parrots, who blow him off with loud squawks.
The Vinnie spots Bogart, an obviously hyper-introverted rhino, who eyes the panting pooch with silence and a wary eye.
"YO, NOSE FRIEND! LET'S PLAY CHASE!
I LIKE YOU! I WANT TO ROLL IN YOUR SMELL!"
Bogart is underwhelmed with this offer. Oblivious of Bogart's sentiment that he just wants to be left alone, Vinnie sticks with him like glue, playing a one-man game of follow the leader and hide-and-seek with the very low-key Bogart. The two weird companions attract the media and Vinnie and Bogart become the sensation of the local nightly news, notoriety that doesn't thrill Bogart but brings Vinnie's boy and his family to find him at last.
Audrey Vernick's Bogart and Vinnie: A Completely Made-up Story of True Friendship (Walker, 2013) finally gets to that predictable happy ending, but the fun of this "completely made-up story," the ironic account of two different personalities in the process of finding true friendship, is mostly in the getting there.
Animal odd couples are numerous in children's literature, but Henry Cole's downright hilarious portrayal of Vinnie, a pup who is definitely looking for love in all the wrong places, lifts this one above the herd. With his usual panache, Cole uses ink, colored pencil, and gouache to give us a goofy, gung-ho pooch whose search for a friend leads him into some exotic encounters. With a bit of the big-eyed look of Mickey Mouse's Pluto, his lolling tongue panting eagerly for somebody to love, and his running series of gushy self-introductions, Vinnie is an eager mutt who absolutely does not want to be alone, in contrast to the stolid Bogart, who craves nothing more than solitude. Told largely in thought balloons, this little lost-dog story manages to tug at the heartstrings a bit while evoking chuckles from readers who may recognize the introvert-extrovert dichotomy among their own friends.
"Diverting and comical," says Kirkus.