cover image Badly Drawn Dog

Badly Drawn Dog

Emma Dodson, . . Barron's, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7641-5814-8

The title character is a jumble of smudged black crayon lines, with a triangle for a head and a scribbled nose. On his way to see his friend Doodle the Poodle, the pooch hero decides he's "tired of being badly drawn," strays into an artist's studio and asks the painter to "properly" render him. Dog's stint as a wild-eyed cubist portrait with angular toes goes badly. His incarnation as a Van Gogh–style field of golden vortices shocks Doodle: "What have you done to yourself? You're just a lot of blobs and swirls." As a dashing Pop-art Dalmatian, he looks like a host of other Pop-art canines ("It is very popular," says the artist). Finally he heads to the girl who first drew him so he can return to being "one big friendly smudge." First-timer Dodson holds to this single conceit, staying focused on her be-true-to-yourself story line. There's at least one good giggle on every page for youngsters, and the artist's cheeky portraits of Warhol dogs, Klee dogs and primitive Rousseau dogs in the jungle will entertain adults. The dog masterpieces and sketchy canine hero demonstrate wit and charm. Why, then, are the rest of the characters and the background tossed off with hasty squiggles, the flowers painted as dots, the humans given faces like rag dolls? They deserve attention, too. Perhaps in the next book. Ages 4-7. (May)