Book Review #1 – Dougal The Garbage Dump Bear

Having been a serious collector of stuffed animals while growing up, this book hit a chord with me. My mother can attest to my ardent devotion to the amassing of more and more stuffed animals. By the time I finally outgrew this mammoth, life consuming passion, I probably had enough garbage bags full of stuffed animals to satisfy a small nation of stuffyless children.

Never would I have dreamed of outright disposing of my hoard of poly-filled wildlife. In this captivating picture book, Matt Dray proves to be one of my own ilk. This true story, well… mostly true… is written and illustrated by a true and literal stuffy junkie (pun intended).

Dougal was the sad and forgotten little remnant of a young girls overgrown toy collection that was accidentally left out in the harsh elements after a lonely tea party where he felt he was the brunt of a collective snub from all of the other party-goers. By and by Dougal found his way to the trash can, then to the dump truck and ultimately to the landfill with all of the other rubbish only to be rescued by a friendly garbage man who obviously has a great devotion to all things stuffed, no matter how tattered and apparently unloveable. Can I just, as a side note, say how much I love the use of the word rubbish in this book? This along with several other little peculiarities littered throughout the book reminds the reader a few times over that this book is written by an Aussie.

This book is unquestionably unique with regards to illustrations. The illustrations are actual photographs of outdoor tea parties, dump trucks, duck ponds and landfills. Children will likely see a number of things that connect with their own reality in these pictures such as the tiny Ikea chairs used at the ill-fated tea party. Adults will find plenty of surprises, both in picture and in the story itself, that will cause an unexpected bout of mildly uncontrollable laughter.

Our whole family, from the three year old all the way up to Mom and Dad, found Dougal The Garbage Dump Bear which is published by Kane/Miller to be thoroughly entertaining, well written, creatively illustrated and purely enjoyable. A sweet life lesson, that all people, adults and children need to remember when life doesn’t seem its most pleasant, is woven into the story nicely without ever really making the reader feel like they are learning a lesson, so delighted are they with each turn of page.

The finale to Dougal’s unexpected life-turn was sweet to this incurable stuffed animal lover, who though having given up her gargantuan stockpile of stuffies many years ago, has never been satisfied with the idea that any of these formerly loved-on personas might spend their eternity languishing at the bottom of a landfill.

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My six year old has decided that he too would like to write or dictate a book review as often as I do so here, in true Reading Rainbow fashion, is what he has dictated to me with regards to his feelings about this book:

This book is called Dougal The Garbage Dump Bear by Matt Dray who actually found Dougal at the dump where he used to work.

I think this will be a popular kids book. It has really funny parts in it. My favorite part was when they found out that Shaggy Thing With One Eye was a really good surfer.

I like the pictures because they are very cute and colorful. The pictures are real photographs. I like how all the toys had real personalities even though they were just toys.

I think kids should read this because it’s very funny and it teaches a lesson that sometimes bad things happen so that good things can happen.

~By B.

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8 Comments

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  1. I’ll have to look for this next time I’m at the book store! It sounds good! And we LOVE books here, we could start our own library, I think, lol!

  2. Oh that sounds like a great book. I am going to have to look for that at the library the next time we go. By the way..the book you suggested for my 5th grader..My Side of the Mountain..was a huge hit..he even found two following books and read those too! Thanks! By the way…I just started my own blog..check it out!

  3. Sounds like a great book! Definitely not rubbish! 🙂

  4. I can vouch for Nan’s critter collection! Good review Nan; think I’ll buy that one for MY collection!Mom

  5. Sounds like a wonderful book. As a lover of all things stuffed, I will be on the lookout for this book.

  6. Your six year old sold me on the book! I’ll have to look for it!

  7. Jodie Fertykowski June 10, 2014 — 7:06 pm

    We adore this book! my six year old choose it at the library and we have been reading it every night. I am going to actually buy his a copy. It really touched me and made me smile.

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