My Neighbor Is a Dog

Isabel Minhos Martins, Author, Madalena Matoso, Illustrator
Isabel Minhós Martins, trans. from the Portuguese by John Herring, illus. by Madalena Matoso. Owlkids (PGW, dist.), $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-926973-68-5
Reviewed on: 02/25/2013
Release date: 04/01/2013
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The Portuguese team behind When I Was Born returns with a story about an apartment building gone to the dogs (and elephants). Residents are shocked when a blue dog moves into a vacant apartment. “My parents thought it was very strange to have a dog as a neighbor,” says the young narrator. “They said he would leave his hair all over the place.... And that he’d scratch himself in a not-very-polite way.” (Meanwhile, the dog’s habits actually involve reading the newspaper and playing saxophone.) Additional animals move in, but while the girl befriends them, her parents are having none of it. The story’s most interesting twist—her parents are actually giraffes—gets swallowed by an ending that’s realistic but disappointing: the family simply moves away, with the girl vowing to return as an adult. Matoso’s blocky images and in-your-face red-and-blue palette give the book an ultrahip aesthetic, complete with quirky neighbors, burly tattooed movers, and badminton-playing elephants. Readers will share the girl’s belief that her building is an awesome place to live, even if they’re left cold by the book’s conclusion. Ages 3–7. (Apr.)
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