cover image Selby: The Secret Adventures of a Talking Dog

Selby: The Secret Adventures of a Talking Dog

Duncan Ball. HarperCollins Publishers, $4.5 (112pp) ISBN 978-0-06-440673-4

By repeating everything he hears on TV, the eponymous hero of this slim, uneven collection of linked stories becomes ""the only talking dog in Australia."" However, the crafty canine suspects that his owners will treat him like a servant if he exposes his newly acquired ability, and so he remains mute in their presence. But his knack for understanding and speaking English gets him into-and sometimes lets him wriggle out of-some silly scrapes. Among the 12 ""secret adventures"" here are tales of how Selby wins a TV contest by correctly answering a history question over the phone, makes his theatrical debut by filling in for an actor who was meant to imitate a dog on stage and foils a ghost hunter's attempts to reveal the spirit allegedly haunting his owners' home. Though the talking-dog contrivance has plenty of potential to please the target audience, Ball's (the Emily Eyefinger books) writing, bogged down by many statements of the obvious and weak plays on words, lacks the spark and ingenuity to pull it off. Unfortunately, the names the author chose for his book's setting (Bogusville) and main human characters (the Trifles) say it all. Illustrations not seen by PW. Ages 7-11. (Mar.)