Top 100 Picture Books #59: Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann
And still we wait for the inevitable return of the Rathmann. We sit and we wait and we hope that maybe, just maybe, she’ll write another picture book. It’s not THAT crazy a notion, is it? But for years not a new Rathmann has graced our shelves. It’s like Waiting for Godot over here. Her website hasn’t even been updated since 2004. So where is she? All we know is that according to her site, “Ms. Rathmann lives and works in Nicasio, CA on a ranch she shares with her husband, John Wick, and a very funny bunch of birds.” I’ve asked about and yes, that does appear to be where she is. She’s happy there. Happy but not making any books. *sigh*
As the Amazon.com summary of this book put it: “Officer Buckle is a roly-poly bloke, dedicated to teaching schoolchildren important safety tips, such as never put anything in your ear and never stand on a swivel chair. The problem is, Officer Buckle’s school assemblies are dull, dull, dull, and the children of Napville just sleep, sleep, sleep. That is, until Gloria the police dog is invited along! Stealthily pantomiming each safety tip behind Officer Buckle’s back, Gloria wins the children’s hearts. Meanwhile Officer Buckle assumes the cheers and laughter are all for him.”
Fun Fact: The year that Officer Buckle and Gloria won the Caldecott the New York Public Library employees would still regularly dress up as the winning book when attending the yearly Newbery/Caldecott banquet. For a long time a policeman’s cap sporting a pair of brown ears lived in the Central Children’s Room. It now resides in Long Island in a box waiting to be cataloged.
Additional Fun Fact: Though this is their only official book, Officer Buckle and Gloria have appeared in at least one other Rathmann title (albeit briefly). Can you name the book?
Publisher’s Weekly said of it, “Rathmann (Good Night, Gorilla) brings a lighter-than-air comic touch to this outstanding, solid-as-a-brick picture book.”
School Library Journal: “A five-star performance.”
And BookList summed it all up with: “Like Officer Buckle and Gloria, the deadpan humor of the text and slapstick wit of the illustrations make a terrific combination. Large, expressive line drawings illustrate the characters with finesse, and the Kool-Aid-bright washes add energy and pizzazz.”
About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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