cover image Open Me...I'm a Dog!

Open Me...I'm a Dog!

Art Spiegelman. HarperCollins, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-06-027320-0

This unusual, slickly produced book, if its own claims are to be believed, is not about a dog, it is a dog. ""I was sure you, of all people, could see past the wizard's curse,"" pleads an apricot-colored pup. The narrator presents evidence for his real self by wagging a pop-up tail (""How many books have tails that wag?"") and barking ""Bow-wow!"" in blocky black letters. He explains that he has run afoul of three nasty characters, each of whom put a spell on him. However, he never tries to reverse the magic. Like any pet (or book), he seeks only enduring affection--plus a little suspension of disbelief. In his first book for children, Spiegelman (Maus) devises a thought-provoking contrast between living creatures and inanimate objects. The volume's compact trim, heavy paper stock and oversize cartoon illustrations are inviting to the eye and hand; a cloth ""leash"" serves as a bookmark, and the endpapers as well as a dog-shaped cutout within use fuzzy, strokable orange stock to simulate fur (""I love sitting in your lap, but I want you to pet me, not just turn my pages!""). Yet although Spiegelman strives for bubbly canine enthusiasm, the language is sometimes more ingratiating than childlike (""My witch got terribly temper-tantrum mad!""). Much of this delivery seems likeliest to grab Gen X-ers, but the premise itself is just ticklish enough to ensnare kids too. All ages. (Sept.)