Doug’s Dung (Once Upon a Garden) by Jo Rooks. PICTURE BOOK. Magination, 2020. $15. ISBN 9781433832376
BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3) – NO
AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE
Doug, a dung beetle, doesn’t fit in. He likes to look at nature instead of working on his physical strength. After failing to lift dung barbells, the other dung beetles jeer at him. When a butterfly gives him encouragement, he gets an idea and starts using petals, pollen, and paint to transform dung balls into works of art. No one is interested in seeing his work until the butterfly returns and starts appreciating it.
The illustrations are cute enough, and how often do you see dung beetles as main characters? However, this story’s themes of never giving up and pursuing your passions are ubiquitous. Other books with similar themes but stronger writing are easily found. For example, the bold text used for the words "strong," "power," "never gave up," and "determined" only makes the message feel more didactic.
P.K. Foster, MLS, elementary school teacher-librarian