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Barry, Boyhound    by Andy Spearman order for
Barry, Boyhound
by Andy Spearman
Order:  USA  Can
Yearling, 2007 (2005)
Hardcover, Paperback
* *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

There are many stories that are different, and then there are those that are dif-fer-ent, and this one is the really out-there dif-fer-ent! The stars of Barry, Boyhound are Barry, Flea One and Flea Two. The support cast includes sister Janey, Mrs. Barry's Mom, a few boys, and a few squirrels. Barry's story begins with two fleas conversing in the hair on his head. Flea One: ''Boy-o-boy, this is the life. Fresh blood, ya gotta love it ... 'Ahh'', as he leans back against a flake of dandruff. Flea Two: ''I want wings. I want to fly ... being a flea sucks', he says as he leans against a hair.'

When Barry arises for the day, he feels different. He's a BOY-hound, 'A rare breed of animal that is a boy on the outside and a dog on the inside, girlhounds also exist. Could happen overnight like magic or all of a sudden. Actual results may vary.' Metamorphosis from a flea bite takes time. It also takes time for Barry's boy brain to catch up with his boyhound brain, so responses to his Mom come out as 'arf, yelp, and ruff'. Barry knows there are lots of advantages to being a dog, e.g. no need to clean your room or eat broccoli, and you can chase the cat. But there are also disadvantages like flea bites, yucky dog food, eating with your face, and being chased by squirrels.

Off to school goes Barry, not that he ever makes it to the classroom. Barry boyhound meets squirrels along the way that end up wrestling him for his peanut butter sandwiches. He makes the acquaintance of a poodle, as they swim across the water to retrieve a thrown ball. By now Barry has lost his knapsack, his pants in the stagnant water, and his peanut butter sandwiches. Aha! but he is finally getting to the schoolyard. Friends understandably begin to taunt him about his appearance. Barry isn't having any of that so he yells a 'Pirate Yell', and off he goes down the middle of the road with one of the boys' sneakers in his mouth. Barry boyhound has various adventures until he meets with an accident, and 'something truly awful happens'.

This is Andy Spearman's first work of fiction. Here and there, he defines words through footnotes - such as 'Mooncalf - someone who's as silly as a young cow on the moon' and 'Abstract - things have no real shape and can't be described, like a kaleidoscope design or the art of Jackson Pollock'. He also includes useful information about Samuel Morse, Bruce Lee, and Wayne Gretzky. Middle school readers will find Barry, Boyhound enjoyable, entertaining, fun, wacky, and at times gross!

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