cover image I Am the Dog

I Am the Dog

Daniel Pinkwater, illus. by Jack E. Davis, Harper, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-06-055505-4

Pinkwater (Beautiful Yetta: The Yiddish Chicken) and Davis give readers absurdity aplenty in this story about a boy, Jacob, and his dog, Max, who agree to change places. "When we woke up.... I stretched. I yawned. I scratched behind my ear—all the things I had seen Max do." Davis (Marsupial Sue) pictures Jacob crouched on all fours with a bone in his mouth as Max stands on a stool furiously brushing his teeth ("He ate a lot of toothpaste"). Jacob's parents are happy to play along, feeding Jacob his breakfast on the floor and sending Max to school in his place. Pinkwater's deadpan prose benefits mightily from the off-the-wall humor in Davis's paintings (as Max, dressed in shorts and a T-shirt, greets his classmates, Jacob watches from the car, a toy ball stuffed in his mouth). Jacob's conclusion, after a day of trading homework and school for playing fetch and napping, will ring true for kids—especially those who are overscheduled. "Both of us had learned something," he says. "Being a dog is better." Ages 4–8. (Oct.)