cover image Gaston


Kelly DiPucchio, illus. by Christian Robinson. S&S/Atheneum, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4424-5102-5

Mrs. Poodle dotes on her four puppies, three “no bigger than teacups” and one—Gaston—“the size of a teapot.” Although he strives to be dainty, Gaston stands out from his sisters. He learns why when he meets Mrs. Bulldog, herself the mother of four: three roundish bulldogs and Antoinette, a poodle. Gaston and Antoinette “could see that there had been a mix-up,” so they trade places: “There. That looked right... it just didn’t feel right.” They longingly gaze back at their former families, and their adoptive mothers miss them. DiPucchio (Crafty Chloe) tells a poignant tale, despite implying that gendered behavior results from nurture: raised with feminine poodles, Gaston “did not like anything brutish or brawny” like his bulldog kin, and rough-and-tumble Antoinette “did not like anything proper or precious” like her fellow poodles. They grow up to marry and breed independent puppies. DiPucchio’s narrative gets a brilliant boost from Robinson’s (Rain!) savvy stencils and acrylics, which—like Maira Kalman’s designs—simultaneously evoke fingerpaintings and elegant gallery work. Gaston’s charm is a blend of sweetness and style. Ages 4–8. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (June)