cover image My Dog Never Says Please: 4

My Dog Never Says Please: 4

Suzanne Williams, Author, Tedd Arnold, Illustrator Dial Books $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8037-1679-7

Subtly detailed with a mass of squiggly colored pencil lines, Arnold's (Green Wilma) cartoon illustrations bring a fresh, edgy goofiness to a familiar theme: the child who is fed up with the obligations of civilized life. Ginny Mae wishes she could live like her pet dog, Ol' Red, who never has to say please, never gets told to clean up his room and never gets corrected by a bratty little brother. When her parents grant her wish, she discovers that a dog's life is not all it's cracked up to be--she gets fleas, has to eat kibble and is bedded in a leaky doghouse. Williams (Mommy Doesn't Know My Name) aptly expresses Ginny Mae's frustrations and longings, couching the narrative in a relaxed, countrified cadence (""Pa says I can go back to being myself anytime I've a mind to""). Arnold's exuberant drawings triumph on every page. His characters' big round eyes and faces register each emotion like comic seismographs, and his depiction of Ginny devouring a slice of cherry pie as a dog would is a wonderful piece of visual slapstick. As for Ol' Red, it's easy to see why Ginny Mae identifies with him--Arnold has created the epitome of gangly, blissfully brainless canine contentment. Ages 4-8. (May)