THE FIGHT FOR FREEDOM
Buck the Chuck, Book 1
Written and Illustrated by Lynn & Jeff Yelton
Freedom Blossom Press 10/01/2019
44 Pages Age 4—8
Genre: Children’s Picture Book, Fiction
Themes: U.S. Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution
Buck is spooked by the wicked BoozleBoops who have come to steal freedom from the residents of Chucksville just like they did in the swampy forest. When Thor, Buck’s guardian whistle pig in training, suggests Buck fight for freedom, Buck wonders what freedom looks like. Buck has always lived with freedoms so he takes it for granted, appreciating its value only when he sees others without it. Buck learns an important lesson: freedom is a gift worth fighting for, even if it’s scary. (from publisher)
“Once upon a time and even right now, unusual heroes have joined the fight for freedom. Buck the Chuck is one of those heroes.”
Why I like this book
In Buck’s world, colors denote freedom. Actual colors like yellow, red, and pumpkin make Chucksville a bright, unique place full of freedom. At some point, the BoozleBoops stole all the freedom from the nearby forest, leaving it a dreary, drab grey. Now, they set their sight on Chucksville. Reading News and Hearsay (the local newspaper), Buck learns the threat is coming to Chucksville. Looking out the window, Buck said, “YIKES, what should I do?” In response, Buck hears, “SPLAT!” and there stands Thor, his guardian whistle pig. Thor tells Buck, “You must fight for freedom!” Problem was, Buck had no idea what freedom looks like.
The characters in The Fight for Freedom are unique, interesting and, of course, colorful. This includes the strange BoozleBoops. These bad guys are easy to spot. They are blue-bodied, evil-eyed, scoundrel-moustached henchmen who look like catfish on land. Like most doers-of-evil, BoozleBoops feel threatened by freedom, because “with freedom you can do great things.” They set out to steal every color in Chucksville because those colors represent freedom and freedom is powerful. They trick the residents into giving them their colors with false promises.
The residents of Chucksville are all groundhogs, wait . . . they are whistle pigs. Sorry, sorry, they are woodchucks. Well, anyway, their homes, gardens, and even they are colorful. Freedom showers everything and everyone in colors, which allow them the power to do as they please, as long as their freedom did not impinge another’s freedom. This makes Chucksville a happy place to live. To keep their freedom Chucksville must stop the BoozleBoops before Chucksville looks like Swampy Forest: a dreary, drab grey.
Children will like Buck the Chuck and his stories. Nearly every page is awash in colors. The characters are cute and funny looking at the same time. There is a hint of Cinderella in Buck and his guardian Thor. Children will quickly pick up the message authors Lynn and Jeff Yelton want them to learn: It is worth fighting for freedom. Some may think the message is overworked and hurts the story. Many catch phrases such as the fruits of freedom, freedom-loving, stand up for freedom, and taking freedom for granted (as Leonard did costing him his lime color) are used. Despite what seems like an overwhelming, in-your-face approach, The Fight for Freedom is not at all didactic. It is a wonder, joyful story about freedom and one woodchuck town where freedom makes everyone happy.
Several sections will induce giggles in both children and adults. Word play is terrific and well used. I can envision Buck the Chuck growing well past its current plan of two books. I truly hope so. Buck, with his overgrown buckteeth and his whistle pig Thor are memorable, as are the BoozleBoops. In time, additional characters could play larger roles and garner equally devoted followers. The use of speech bubbles for asides was smart, given the lengthiness of the text (for a picture book). There is much to laugh at all around Buck and children will take notice.
Where I get confused is with Buck saying he has no idea what freedom looks like when everyone knows how the forest turned grey and the freedom lost without the colors. Buck’s odd lack of understanding shoots the two (Buck and Thor) on a long seven-spread flyover so Buck can see the colors and actions of freedom. Before Thor arrives, Buck reads the local newspaper, News and Hearsay, recalling the incident, “BoozleBoops who stole freedom and its colors . . .” (from Swampy Forest).
After building the importance of freedom and how desperately the BoozleBoops want the entire world’s freedom for themselves, ending the onslaught of BoozleBoops with a threat (a growling Buck showing his humongous two front teeth), doesn’t seem enough to stop the “lying, sticky-fingered, freedom-thieving scoundrels.” Buck did not even take a nibble out of the leading BoozleBoop’s behind (which would have also garnered huge laughs and some nice alliteration).
Buck the Chuck, Book 1: The Fight for Freedom is a worthwhile story for anyone trying to instill the cost of, or the value of, freedom to young children. The colorful cast of characters will grab children’s attention and curiosity. The Fight for Freedom and the upcoming Let Freedom Ring, can help teachers open a dialogue about freedom, including how my freedom can impinge your freedom and what to do if this happens (besides a bite in the butt). Freedom is a hot topic so even young children will be curious about their own freedom—and its color. (Mine is a bright apple green with caramel striping. What is your freedom color?)
Favorite Sentence /Scene
I loved the speech bubbles with their aside remarks and the News and Hearsay local paper (I read it all, wishing there was more to read). Thor’s landing, with Buck riding, was hilarious. Pilot Thor states (as if on speaker), “In preparation for landing, please make sure your seatbelt is securely fastened and . . . your foot is not in my eye.” There are no seatbelts and, of course, Buck’s foot is in Thor’s eye making the landing . . . ha . . . hehe, hehe . . . I can’t stop laughing. No spoilers.
A “Did You Know?” section with three facts children (and adults) may not know. The three are: (1) three names for the woodchuck; (2) name of a night rainbow; and (3) freedoms around the world (including the principles of freedom upon which the U.S.A. was founded upon. There is also a list of the five main characters with photographs, and a short description. (For example “BUCK the CHUCK—our reluctant hero”).
Illustrations Rendered created digitally.
Available at Amazon
THE FIGHT FOR FREEDOM (Buck the Chuck, Book 1). Copyright © 2019 by Lynn & Jeff Yelton. Published by Freedom Blossom Press, Sherwood WI.
Copyright © 2019 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved
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