Thursday, August 20, 2020

Backyard BASH! Stick Dog Gets the Tacos by Tom Watson

Stick Dog was downhearted. As a free-living mutt, each day is a challenge in finding food to fill his stomach and the bottomless tummies of his followers, Karen, Mutt, Poo Poo, and Stripes. His buddies are not the brightest doggie treats in the box. So Stick has to be the brains of the bunch.

But today his haul has been zilch, and he has returned to his drainage pipe under Route 16 to console himself with a nap. He has just enjoyed twenty-seven seconds of shuteye when he is abruptly awakened by Karen, the freakout queen dachshund. Karen has just seen something dreadful--so awful that she forgot it on the way to fetch Stick. Kindly Stick patiently draws it out of her.

Her body began to shiver. "It was terrible. It was in that backyard. Two small humans were hitting .. a... a... a... DOG!"

CODE RED! Stick rouses Mutt, Poo Poo, and Stripes and leads his rescue dogs to the scene of the crime, with little Karen lagging behind on her short legs.

But when Stick arrives at the scene, things are not exactly as represented.
"Did she say the dog was in a tree?" panted Mutt. "Can dogs climb trees?"

Stick Dog's experienced glance takes in the truth of the scene quickly. The "dog" is not a dog. It is a papier-mache' unicorn pinata hanging from a tree limb, and the two kids are swinging their sticks wildly, unable to hit their target.

The disappointed pack prepares to head for home, but Stick quickly determines that the setup in this backyard has some serious food possibilities. A man and woman bring out napkins and paper plates and a big bowl covered with foil to a picnic table. When the woman goes back inside, the man stealthily raises the foil and fishes out a big gob of gooey green stuff on his finger. He licks his finger clean, eyes closed in pleasure.
"That's really good guacamole," says the man.

There's more talk between the man and woman about corn chips and take-out tacos on the way. The dogs are already on good terms with chips and tacos, and, hey! How bad can guacamole be!

The man and woman urge the kids around to the side of the house to play a game of badminton, and after convincing Karen that the kids are not hitting real birdies, Stick and Co. manage to fill their empty stomachs with the people's picnic while they play their game. Stick even figures out that the dangling unicorn pinata must contain some sort of quite delectable dessert, well worth trying to get down from the tree.

Can Stick come up with a way to get that pinata down and make their getaway before the badminton game ends?

It's another laugh-out-loud romp with Stick Dog and his crew of dim-witted but willing canines, in Tom Watson's Stick Dog Gets the Tacos (Harper, 2019). Watson's series is truly hilarious for middle readers who love graphic comic heroes like The Adventures of Captain Underpants and Dog Man: A Tale of Two Kitties: From the Creator of Captain Underpants (Dog Man 3) and author-illustrator Tom Watson's companion books to the Stick Dog series, Stick Cat: Two Cats to the Rescue.Ilustrator Watson, who honed his comic skills as a politician's speech writer, even throws in a free drawing lesson on how to create Stick Dog and his cronies to encourage some artistic comic storytelling among his fans.

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