I've been a fan of Caralyn and Mark Buehner since I read Fanny's Dream. When my daughter had a chance to hear them speak recently at the Springville Library (the library where she runs an incredible teen program!) she got a them to autograph copies of Fanny's Dream and Dex: The Heart of a Hero for me, which is like gold in our family!
Dex: The Heart of a Hero, written by Caralyn Buehner, and illustrated by her husband, Mark Buehner, is just plain cute. Dex, the weenie dog desperately wants to be a hero, but he can't even defend himself from tauntings of the neighborhood tomcat Clevis.
But Dex has a rich imaginary life, shared with the reader through comic strips frames that portray Dex as a flying superhero and he decides that he was tired of wanting to be a hero, he was going to start being a hero.
He begins to train by reading every superhero comic book and watching every superhero movie he can find. He starts a vigorous exercise program, and in one of my students' favorite frames, finally discovers his muscles. Dex even orders himself a superhero uniform, which garnered lots of laughs from my class because, let's face it - weenie dogs look comical in superhero get-ups.
The minute he ties on his shiny green cape, Dex begins helping others in any way that he can. His crowning achievement, however, involves rescuing the very tomcat who has been torturing him. All hail Super Dog!
I'll avoid spoiling the ending for you, but it is cute.
Mark Buehner's work is among my favorite in the world of illustrators. My first Mark Buehner book was Harvey Potter's Balloon Farm and I was hooked. His pictures, even when depicting events that take place in darkness, are always bright and vivid. He is great with facial expressions and, in this particular book, has hidden rabbits, cats and T-rexes throughout the illustrations, which motivated my students to scour every picture. Their hidden pictures treasure hunt generated discussions about a number of things they would not have otherwise noticed.
Read this story, heck, make it a dog stories week and add The Hallo-wiener, the Martha Speaks series, Dog Breath, Harry the Dirty Dog, Walter the Farting Dog series and Dogzilla. The giggles are half the fun!