Goodbye, Max

Holly Keller, Author Greenwillow Books $15 (32p) ISBN 978-0-688-06561-4

Author/illustrator Keller has the uncanny ability to tell an emotion-packed story with simplicity and directness. As in Geraldine's Blanket, the main character has lost something that cannot be replaced. In this story, Ben's dog Max has died the week before. His parents bring home a new puppy, but Ben won't look at it and refuses to help name it. But while Ben and his friend Zach are delivering newspapers, Zach begins reminiscing about funny things Max did: he dropped Mr. Brown's paper in a puddle (""He couldn't hold it as tight as he used to''); he ate Mrs. Murphy's TV section right after she scolded him for barking at her cat (``Max's eyes were so bad he probably didn't even see that dumb cat''). The the boys sit on the curb and cry until they can't cry any more. Then Ben decides that it's finally time to name the new puppy. A warm, tender story about love, grief and the comfort of friendship. Ages 4-8. (April)