Picture Book by Dog

Michael Relth. Little, Brown, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-316-45886-3
In Relth’s debut, a rescue mutt takes crayon in paw and creates a combination memoir and tribute for his beloved owner, a tan-skinned girl. On heavily illustrated pages, the dog recounts the adjustment from life on the street (“I roamed around/—hungry, wet, and/ searching for the home/ I’d never found ”) to cozy family life: “First I had to find out/ what to chew and NOT to chew// And I learned/ the hard way where to/ poo and NOT to poo!” For the latter lesson, the digitally created cartoon illustrations show the dog examining an elaborate diagram, clearly labeled, “NOT HERE” (the cat, the car) and “YES” (patches of lawn). The girl is a patient teacher, and the duo’s affection is evident as they loll on an idyllic hillside, but the story sags when the narrator thinks of a future when the girl is grown and he is “an old and happy dog/ with fur that’s turning gray.” It’s nostalgia more befitting a grown-up than a child or a canine, but the indelibility of the bond is clear, showing that the classic bumper sticker—“Who rescued who?”—is the doggone truth. Ages 4–8. Agent: Rick Richter, Aevitas Creative Management. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 10/15/2020
Release date: 09/29/2020
Genre: Children's
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