cover image Dogs at Work: Good Dogs. Real Jobs.

Dogs at Work: Good Dogs. Real Jobs.

Margaret Cardillo, illus. by Zachariah Ohora. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-290631-1

Dogs frequently stay at home when their humans go out for an extended period. What if the tables were turned? Cardillo (Just Being Jackie) and Ohora (Who Wet My Pants?) muse on this possibility through the wonderings of two children left behind for the day. Watching their dogs board a bus for work (“How could they leave us behind?”), the kids—one with brown skin and pigtail puffs, the other white with freckles—report on their own needs. But as readers can see, while the humans grow bored or get into mischief (unrolling toilet paper across the bathroom, for example), the hounds are doing important work: acting as therapy and service dogs, rescuing stranded mountaineers, delivering mail by sled—even running for mayor. While the narration is ostensibly from the human perspective, it’s not always clear whether the visuals follow the dogs’ jobs or the humans’ lives. But Ohora’s doggy acrylic illustrations will keep readers’ eyes on the page—rendered with flat, bright colors and a quirky black line that adds both visual ballast and feathery textures, the vignettes show hounds fulfilling their roles with a sturdy commitment and no fuss. The scenes showing canine morning and evening commutes represent lovely moments of deadpan humor, and each image reminds readers of what they love best about their pooches: their tenacity and steadfastness, whether at home or on the job. “Barkmatter” provides more information on canine careers. Ages 4–8. [em]Author’s agent: Stephen Barr, Writers House. Illustrator’s agent: Sean McCarthy, Sean McCarthy Literary. (June) [/em]