Dog Brain

David Milgrim, Author
David Milgrim, Author Viking Children's Books $13.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-670-86935-0
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Sneakers the dog would rather play dumb than play dead. When told to fetch or roll over, he shrugs; upon hearing the words ""You're in my chair!,"" he points to a dunce cap on his head and stares pointedly at the TV. ""I think he's faking it,"" says the young narrator, whose parents haven't caught on to Sneakers' act. Images of the smiling dog, who splashes in a pool heedless of the father yelling, ""Hey! No dogs in the pool!"", tend to support the ""genius"" theory of Sneakers as a canny canine whose feigned ignorance allows him to do exactly as he pleases. The author augments his rather thin premise by suggesting that Sneakers leads a late-night intellectual life at doggy cafes and movie houses; this amounts to a good-natured swat at human slackers, but doesn't advance the plot. Using dialogue balloons as well as straight text, Milgrim saturates each page with heavy shades of orange, royal purple, teal and blue, and works in big, bold shapes with thick black-ink outlines. The minimally detailed spreads are nicely composed and uncluttered, yet there's nothing fresh about either the material or Milgrim's handling of it. Ages 3-8. (Sept.)
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