cover image Simon and the Better Bone

Simon and the Better Bone

Corey R. Tabor. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $19.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-327555-3

Giving readers a front-row seat to a comical encounter based on Aesop’s “The Dog and His Reflection,” Tabor (Sir Ladybug) once again takes a picture book’s physical form into account, asking readers to open it vertically. So done, Simon, a frolicking, floofy brown pooch with highly expressive eyebrows, occupies the top half of each spread, while his reflection in a park pond appears below the book’s gutter. Like his fabled progenitor, Simon thinks his reflection is a second pooch with “a better bone” than the excellent specimen in Simon’s mouth—and he wants it. Digitally assembled pencil, colored pencil, and acrylic art, which combines textures scribbly and velvety, chronicles Simon’s unsuccessful attempts to best his “scrawny little” rival with a series of challenges (“He chased his tail while playing dead while reciting his favorite poem”) and a “polite warning.” Finally, Simon pounces, loses the bone in the drink, and gets thoroughly soaked. Aesop ended the story there with a gotcha, but Tabor offers a more contemporary arc of redemption and kindness: seeing that the other dog has “lost your bone, too,” a contrite Simon finds a replacement and drops it into the pond as an act of friendship. Is Simon a silly dog? Of course—and a real sweetheart, too. Ages 4–8. Agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (May)