cover image My Big Dog

My Big Dog

Janet Stevens, Susan Stevens Crummel. Golden Books, $9.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-307-10220-1

The arrival of a big-hearted, dopey golden retriever puppy disrupts a reigning cat's domain in sister collaborators Stevens (Tops & Bottoms) and Crummel's irresistible tale told from the feline's point of view. Merl, a crotchety brown-and-white cat with a pink play mouse dangling from its mouth, likes things Merl's way: ""Inside my house, my pur-r-r-r-fect house, everything is mine! My dish. My sofa. My chair...."" The cat is not amused when the new puppy bounds up with her ""sloppy, drooly tongue"" and tries to make friends. But it gets worse: the dog just keeps getting bigger (shown adorably full-grown in the centerfold with a ""Violet"" name tag), so the cat sets off in search of a new home until Violet comes along to retrieve Merl. Stevens's busy, close-up pastel drawings underscore Merl's firm position by frequently depicting the cat solo, simply looking out at the viewer. Stevens effectively uses these one-page portraits to convey the cat's internal life through its whiskered disgruntled expressions, uneven ears and lifeless toy mouse, while depicting Merl's interaction with Violet in successive energetic spot drawings. The few times humans are in evidence, they appear in black-and-white photographs that Stevens overlays atop her drawings. The authors' chronicle of the puppy's slow victory over Merl's disaffections works to great comic effect. Ages 3-7. (Jan.)