The Night I Followed the Dog

Nina Laden, Author Chronicle Books $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8118-0647-3
Making an auspicious entry into children's books, Laden provides a stylish, droll answer to the riddle of what dogs do while their owners sleep. Her narrator is forced to revise his low opinion of the seemingly sedentary family pet (``I always thought he was a boring dog'') after he spies the pooch alighting from a limousine early one morning, wearing a tuxedo. Tailing him that night, he discovers that the doghouse is in fact a well-appointed bachelor pad and his dog the owner of a spiffy canine nightclub, where dogs go to relax, get treats without having to lie down or play dead, and ``talk about their problems with the mailman, or with the poodle next door.'' Skewed angles and perspectives and a mauve-and-midnight-blue palette ably capture the boy's disorientation, wonder and eventual admiration of his pet's jaunty after-hours persona. The art is at once broadly expressive and full of small, witty details (e.g., the limousine's vanity plate reads K-9). The visual playfulness extends even to the hand-lettered text, which is animated by such variations as inverted lettering for ``roll over,'' chewed lettering for ``hungry,'' and near-pictograms (the word ``sit'' rests on a chair). A salutary outing spun from a simple but rich idea. Ages 4-10. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/01/1994
Release date: 08/01/1994
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