The Strawberry Dog

Betty Paraskevas, Author, Michael Paraskevas, Illustrator Dial Books $13.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-8037-1367-3

When a seaside resort town starts to close up for the winter, it looks as though a homeless brown dog will have nowhere to go. But as the first snow starts to fall, he's taken in by Eli, the lonely man from the city who befriended the dog during the summer. While imbued with the sweetness inherent in most tales of human-animal bonding, the book lacks the imaginative dreamscape of On the Edge of the Sea and the demonic joie de vivre of Junior Kroll , earlier efforts by this mother-son team. The scansion of Paraskevas's verse is particularly awkward, with meter all but abandoned in favor of rhyme. Michael Paraskevas's richly textured gouache-and-charcoal paintings of dog, seashore and well-heeled summer people display his characteristically subtle humor, but are limited in scope by the static text; his fans will likely miss the surreal images and manic energy of his previous works. Ages 4-8. (May)