cover image Charley’s First Night

Charley’s First Night

Amy Hest, illus. by Helen Oxenbury. Candlewick, $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-4055-2

Skittish, curious, loving, and vividly adorable, Henry’s new puppy, Charley, epitomizes the idea that while being a fledging pet owner isn’t always easy, it’s entirely worthwhile. Charley is a bit overwhelmed by his new surroundings, but Henry patiently shows him around the house, makes him a cozy bed, and responds to nighttime howling in a heartbeat. Meanwhile, Henry’s parents want to make sure the boundaries of behavior—for both pet and owner—are crystal clear from the get-go (“I would be in charge of feeding Charley, they said, and I couldn’t wait to feed Charley every day forever”). Henry sees the job through thanks to his unconditional love for his canine charge, a budding sense of duty, and a little bending of the rules. With a voice that’s sweetly comic and deeply sympathetic, Hest (Letters to Leo) beautifully imagines a serious, careful little boy who’s juggling the needs of multiple parties. Oxenbury (King Jack and the Dragon), wonderful as always in chronicling the small dramas of domestic life, will have readers falling in love with this duo from the very first page. Ages 3–6. (Oct.)