Alfie Is Not Afraid

Patricia Carlin. Disney-Hyperion, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4231-4537-0
As a boy embarks on a backyard camp-out—“Alone in the wild, like real explorers”—he extols the bravery of his white-and-black dog, Alfie, who will certainly protect the boy no matter what nature throws in their path. Alfie looks fierce enough in the kitchen, striking a vigilant pose atop a rolled-up sleeping bag. But as the night proceeds, and the narrator imagines one exotic peril after another (“He is also not afraid of grizzly bears, poison spiders, or trees that come to life and clutch you in their branches”), Carlin’s thought-bubble illustrations make it clear that Alfie is far from lionhearted—in fact, he’s convinced he’ll be on the short end of every one of these encounters. Adult author Carlin (How to Tell If Your Boyfriend Is the Antichrist), making a very impressive children’s book debut, has a veteran’s sense of comedy and color. But it’s her black ink line that sells the book: she uses it to give her vignettes a sketchlike immediacy and to create the most expressive, beseeching canine ears and eyes in recent memory. Ages 3–7. Agent: Dan Lazar, Writers House. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/26/2012
Release date: 07/01/2012
Genre: Children's
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