cover image Jonathan's Cloud

Jonathan's Cloud

Gardner McFall. HarperCollins Publishers, $11.89 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-06-024124-7

Mr. Balbini and his dog companionably share their livesuntil Theodor begins to talk, and Mr. Balbini finds himself the recipient of a tiresome litany of complaints and demands. ``Beef Bits again?'' Theodor objects; ``Too bad we don't have color TV,'' he notes; ``I want to learn French,'' he commands. Theodor soon takes up residence with his French teacher whose stylish living is more to his liking; and, while visiting Theodor at Madame's, Mr. Balbini finds a more traditional pooch, one happy to share the simple pleasures Theodor eschews. The premise of this picture book is immediately appealing in its absurdity, and the story's offbeat humor remains fresh and surprising to the end. As in Mather's illustrations for Maria Theresa and other works, bold colors, skillful patterns, and the flat perspectives of these droll pictures double the pleasure. Ages 5-8. (August)