cover image Art Dog

Art Dog

Thacher Hurd. HarperCollins, $17.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-06-024424-8

Talk about a dog marking its territory-by day Arthur Dog is a mild-mannered hound who guards the Dogopolis art museum, but when the moon is full, he becomes Art Dog. Donning beret and mask, he takes paints and brushes and fills the back alleys of the city with his murals. Art Dog remains undiscovered until he's framed for the theft of Leonardo Dog Vinci's Mona Woofa. He's thrown in the clink, but escapes with the help of his superpowered medium (``where there were bars, he painted a window''), nabs the real crooks and gets his own gallery exhibit as a reward. Hurd's (Mama Don't Allow; Mystery on the Docks) straight-from-the-tube palette and blurry brush strokes suggest a painter in speedy action; his art-humor-canine portraits based on canvases by Vermeer, Seurat, Picasso and others line the museum walls-is good-natured. His plot, meanwhile, gleefully invokes comic-book conventions: Art Dog drives a streamlined Brushmobile, stops off at the Wile E. Coyote-esque Acme Paint Co. and battles the baddies in a dynamic spread highly suggestive of TV's goofy Batman (enhanced with cutout shapes a la Matisse). A waggish good time. Ages 4-8. (Feb.)