Outside his doghouse, it’s raining. Inside, things aren’t much cheerier, as Pug Man—who seriously overslept—faces a solitary day without breakfast, without coffee. The story begins exactly like a caffeine-deprived morning: few, tense words and muted colors. Then, like a toddler jumping on your bed at 4 a.m. on a Saturday, the story erupts with the arrival of a very colorful, over-enthusiastic and cheerful fairy. Animals, castles and yummy treats blast out of her shiny, yellow wand, filling Pug Man’s world with rhymes and cotton-candy pink skies. Pug Man’s grumpy day just got worse. Or did it?
Pug Man’s 3 Wishes is a fairy tale of sorts that will entertain readers of all ages. Kids will giggle at seeing Pug Man go through his morning routine, using the bathroom and staring blankly into the fridge. Little readers will have fun spotting the antics of two little mice who share Pug Man’s doghouse. Adults will be amused, and maybe a little self-conscious, to recognize themselves in his bleary morning mirror reflection.
With minimal text, Sebastian Meschenmoser (Mr. Squirrel and the Moon) lets Pug Man’s expressions and actions carry the story. Several spreads have no text, nor do they need it. Meschenmoser’s detailed pencil drawings perfectly capture Pug Man’s mood, while simple backgrounds fill in the story.
In a world of fairy tales and dreams-come-true, Pug Man’s 3 Wishes is an entertaining, if slightly tongue-in-cheek, antidote. The book ends with a contented and simple message: The fluffy clouds and castles are nice, but sometimes all you need is a friend. And a cup of coffee.