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Upchuck and Rotten Willy – The Great Escape –
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This novel tracks the hilarious adventures of two atypical friends –Chuck, the cat, and Willy, the Rottweiler. No matter what obstacle is placed in their path, they are determined to overcome it. Whether it be the stereotype that cats and dogs are enemies or the fact that they are very different in size, the two are unrelenting in their quest to succeed. The adventure begins when the pair try to find an activity that they can both enjoy together . Their attempt at tag fails when Willy’s weight and clumsiness cause him to careen toward Chuck, threatening to turn the cat into road kill. As Wallace states, “Playing tag with a Rottweiler is like a cricket playing tag with a steamroller.”¹ They then decide to explore the world outside of Willy’s yard. The problem is how to get Willy out of it. Willy cannot dig his way out because the Mama people will get mad at him. Chuck’s attempt to boost Willy over the fence results in another squishing. When the pair find a loose board in the gate and put Willy’s geometry skills to use, they eventually escape. Their first stop on the outside is Luigi’s, a restaurant that often hands out snacks to Chuck and his friends. Unfortunately for Willy, Luigi thinks that Willy is out to kill his buddy, Chuck, so he threatens to smack Willy with a skillet. Once this misunderstanding is cleared up, the friends enjoy a big bowl of spaghetti and meatballs. Problems escalate once Willy has had a taste of freedom and wants to go out everyday. Willy’s desire to explore Farmer McVee’s field is thwarted by Chuck’s fear of the big monsters (with teeth growing out of their heads) that live there and scream, “Moo” all day. Willy then decides that he would like to visit the busy street. Imagine the astonishment of the passersby who see a cat standing on a dog’s head to push the walk button to cross the street! Encounters with a skunk and a dog catcher round out the excitement.
This novel is an excellent way to teach children that friendship can come from unlikely sources if it is only given the chance to develop and grow.
For more information on the novel, please visit the author's website.
¹ Bill Wallace, Upchuck and the Rotten Willy: The Great Escape (New York, 1998), 26
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