As inventive and fresh as Seeger's Hidden Alphabet
, the three gentle stories in this inspired collection are utterly charming. Emerging readers will take to the rambunctious dachshund and winsome stuffed bear, and will find the bold font of the economical text easy to follow. Each story's conflict is satisfyingly resolved with a surprise ending that reflects these unique individuals. When Dog rattles off his inappropriate suggestions for changing his boring name, Bear suggests that Dog change his name to "My Best Friend Dog." Dog is delighted, but then blithely suggests that Bear call him "Dog
for short." The uncluttered illustrations, in thick black line and swirling bright watercolor wash, work seamlessly with stories that rely on humor both child-centered and unexpected. When Dog coaches the timid bear off of a high chair ("Take one step. One little, tiny step"), their faces deftly mirror their emotions. Seeger comically combines Bear's narration of a story he is trying to read with Dog's rambunctious pleas ("Play with me! Play with me!"). When Bear finally puts his book down and asks what they should play, dog answers, "Read to me! Read to me!" After turning the last page, young readers will beg the same for this enchanting trio of tales. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)
Agent: The Frank Weiman Literary Group.