The Sneaky Little Beagle, a new color storybook from Hallmark, is more a book to read to someone than it is to read to yourself. For one thing, it’s better out loud; the book is set to the tune of the song “Itsy Bitsy Spider”. And for another, the book has a surprise on the last page… only if you’re the one turning the pages, it’s not much of a surprise. You know something is up because the paper is suddenly thicker and stiffer. But if you’re turning the page for someone looking on, perhaps the pop-up that appears really will be a surprise (especially if they are not yet a reader, as the cover and the title page both tell you that pop-up artist Brian Pilachowski worked on the book. (This is not a unique usage or problem; Back in 1991, I was reading a graphic novel based on the Terminator movies called One-Shot, and at a climactic scene, suddenly the paper was thick and stiff and something was clearly up. So the pop-up was interesting rather than a surprise.)
If you do choose to read it out loud to someone, practice it first. Sometimes, you have to force the syllables a bit to meet the meter of the song.
The story is basically one of Snoopy trying to scare the kids by jumping out at them while wearing a spider costume. Why a spider costume? There’s no in-story reason… but the out-of-story reason is that Hallmark has also just released a toy Snoopy in a spider costume.
Is this some ideal form of storybook? Nah, it feels like it’s serving too many master, trying to fit the music and tie in to the toy. But it’s a slick production, each illustration by Rich LaPierre is well done.
This one’s not available through Amazon, but is likely to be at your local Hallmark store.