cover image Lucky and Squash

Lucky and Squash

Jeanne Birdsall, illus. by Jane Dyer. Harper, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-06-083150-9

Lucky and Squash are dog neighbors and best friends who long for a permanent play date. But a fence separates their two yards and their single owners, Mr. Bernard and Miss Violet, are “so shy they’ve never even said hello to each other.” So the pets plan a series of “escapes” hoping that their two humans will be thrown together in the rescue effort—and if means the dogs get to venture out to exciting destinations, so much the better. Birdsall’s (Flora’s Very Windy Day) genial, intimate storytelling instantly establishes a bond with readers (“Your plan didn’t work,” says a frustrated Lucky. “They didn’t get married and we’re still not brothers”). While Dyer’s (the Cookies series) watercolors are pretty and sweet, there’s little sense of the dogs having two distinctive personalities, and the understated portrayal of their improbable adventures (snorkeling at beach, sightseeing in a Manhattan hansom cab) feels like a missed opportunity. Is it Emma meets Ferris Bueller’s Day Off with wagging tails? Not quite, though it’s hardhearted to quibble with a book that ends with a wedding brought about by two canine matchmakers. Ages 4–7. (May)