cover image Carl's Masquerade

Carl's Masquerade

Alexandra Day. Farrar Straus Giroux, $13.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-374-31094-3

Just when you thought Day had issued the dernier cri on the subject of Carl the capering canine (Carl's Afternoon in the Park , et al.), she tops herself by producing her most atmospheric book yet. Here, the rottweiler is bidden to mind the baby while the grown-ups attend a masquerade ball. Carl and baby, of course, tail the party-goers and join in the fun (``Oh! They must be Beauty and the Beast. Great costumes!'' say the doorkeepers in one of the three spreads bearing text). Day has all but abandoned the small, multiple scenes used to convey a particular narrative development in the earlier Carl books--instead, settings are sumptuously evoked, fully peopled and lushly colored, packed with witty details (e.g., Carl and baby encounter a guest tricked out as Carl-and-baby; Carl and baby solve the problem of cutlery by feasting on popsicles; a bullfrog brass band keeps everyone hopping). Meanwhile, the party itself, with its site gaily festooned, its guests gotten up in magical guises and its many diversions, could be everybody's fantasy fiesta. All ages. (Oct.)