cover image BITTLE


Patricia MacLachlan, , illus. by Dan Yaccarino. . HarperCollins/Cotler, $15.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-06-000961-8

Two mistrustful pets grow to love a new baby in this amiable story, pictured from a dog and cat's close-to-the-floor vantage point. Nigel, a fawn-colored tabby, and Julia, a spotted hound, call the interloper "Bittle" because "She's just a little bit of a thing." Due to their suspicion (Julia "moved her bones, one by one by one, to a new hiding place"), the pets monitor the girl closely. Yaccarino, author of the Oswald books, pictures Nigel purring Bittle to sleep and Julia making her smile with a long "Whooooooooo " howl. The three have a lot in common. Like the cat, Bittle enjoys reaching for butterflies outside; like the dog, she has a thing for bathroom appliances (" 'I love that toilet,' said Julia"). At breakfast, Bittle "dropped pieces of scrambled egg to Nigel" while Julia "licked cinnamon oatmeal off of Bittle's foot." The MacLachlans (Painting the Wind ), a mother-daughter team, imply an animal understanding of Bittle as a noisy creature and of the human parents as simply "the man and woman." They humorously imagine the pets' grudging tolerance turning to bemused affection. Yaccarino's rounded shapes and breakfast-time palette of waffle brown, pancake-batter gold and summery green foreshadow the trio's cozy friendship. The pets, modeled after curious older siblings, are resistant yet nonthreatening, and they soon welcome their new family member with credible warmth. Ages 4-8. (June)