From The Horn Book, September 2000:
The quick-witted Bonaparte will not be denied. Separated from his master, Jean Claude, whose new school does not allow dogs, Bonaparte determines to gain entrance. Each weekday he appears at the school. On Monday, he comes as himself, a loyal dog, "to fetch my boy." His ruses become more desperate as the week progresses: Tuesday, Bonaparte dissembles as Jean Claude's mother; Wednesday, as another candidate for entrance to the school; Thursday, as a drummer for the school band; Friday, as the new lunch lady. On Saturday, disguised as the new janitor, Bonaparte discovers Jean Claude missing from school. Wily readers will know instantly what's up and where it will all end, but that only adds to the pleasure of this light-hearted story. Halperin's detailed pencil-and-watercolor illustrations, dominated with pastel tones of pinks, lilacs, and blues, re-create the France of cafés and chateaux, of art galleries and carousels. Each page is bordered with motifs in a French spirit: repeated cathedral doors, stained-glass gothic windows, church spires, bridges, and walled cities; the cover's border of dawn-lit Eiffel Towers initiates the winning pattern. But the real winner is Bonaparte himself; however garbed, whatever chapeau, Bonaparte est charmant. s.p.b.
From School Library Journal:
Gr 1-3-Bonaparte, a shaggy dog, misses his school-bound boy so much that he ventures from their village to Paris for a reunion. Unfortunately, La School d'Excellence has a "no dogs allowed" policy that hardly deters the clever canine from donning guises to gain entry. Though barred at every turn, he and Jean Claude eventually connect and even affect change at the stuffy school. The language in this well-told story stretches readers' imagination—"Alone that night on a pillow of stone, Bonaparte longed for the warm lap where he'd sprawled, lumpy and baggy with ease." Every page is bordered by a unique and sometimes elaborate pattern. This frame is then subdivided into sections. Within each one, a pencil-and-watercolor image embellishes the plot. All text is housed within its own dialogue box on every page. Readers will pore over the details in the pictures, panel by panel. Love conquers all in Bonaparte.
From Publisher's Weekly (starred review):
Fresh as a newly baked croissant, this delightful confection finds a lonely pooch longing for his young master's warm lap and "determined to find his boy" after Jean Claude is sent off to boarding school. Sadly, "La School d'Excellence" has a strict policy: "NO DOGS ALLOWED." This doesn't deter Bonaparte, however, who sniffs out Jean Claude's trail. Halperin's (Sophie and Rose) charming pencil and watercolor panel drawings chronicle the canine's route through the breathtaking streets of Paris, with its cafés, fountains and fruit stands (one heartbreaking vignette shows the furry fellow sleeping "on a pillow of stone" at the foot of a statue), until he storms the school's gates. He arrives daily in a different disguise as the boy's mother, he's twigged when he offers the registrar his dog license as I.D.; as a new drummer in the high school band, his tail (which wags "in four-quarter time") gives him away. The day Bonaparte turns up as the new janitor, his canine talents are finally appreciated: Jean Claude is discovered missing and it’s up to Bonaparte to track him down. Chall's (Rupa Raises the Sun) narrative strikes just the right balance between humor and feelings of loss in this captivating dog-loses-boy, dog-gets-boy tale. Her words together with the artwork's elaborate borders and delicately detailed drawings will waltz straight off the pages and into the reader's hearts. Encore! Ages 4-8. (Sept.)
From The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books:
The Bonaparte of the title is a whiskery lop-eared canine, bereft when his owner, young Jean Claude, goes off to La School d'Excellence for his education. The faithful pup follows his master's trail, but when he addresses himself to the school, he's informed that they have a strict anti-dog policy. Refusing to take this proscription lying down, Bonaparte disguises himself variously as Jean Claude's mother, an entering student, a player in the band, a lunch lady, and a janitor, each time getting found out as a dog; on his last unmasking, he discovers that Jean Claude is missing, and the school shifts to support of loyal Bonaparte as he finds their errant pupil. The high-spirited comedy (kids will particularly appreciate Bonaparte's reasoned conversations with the school authorities) offsets the slight preciousness of the faux-French fillips; the dog-boy friendship and the eventually happy doggy school (the "No Dogs Allowed" sign changes to "Now Dogs Allowed") are warm and delightful components. Halperin's art employs its customary borders containing precise and petite motifs accenting the larger images, which often separate into sequential panels that support or add action to the central scenes; text is tightly controlled in boxes that float through the illustrations. Jean Claude and Bonaparte, both—especially the latter—personable figures, keep the pale intricacy of the visuals from becoming chilly and distant, so the result is an inviting and Anno-like complexity of landscape. Use this to add a little oh-la-la to a doggy readaloud. DS
From Smithsonian's Notable Books for Children, 2000:
Bonaparte by Marsha Wilson Chall, illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin (DK Ink, $16.95) Incroyable! What's a dog to do when his young master is sent to boarding school? Track that child down, of course, which is why Bonaparte, one tireless canine, happens to be prowling the streets of Paris. Utterly, well, fetching.