cover image If You Were a Dog

If You Were a Dog

Jamie A. Swenson, illus. by Chris Raschka. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-374-33530-4

Being a dog is only one of the options in this exercise, which invites children to imagine life as all kinds of animals (including, at the end, dinosaurs). “If you were a dog, would you be a speedy-quick, lickety-sloppidy, scavenge-the-garbage, frisbee-catching, hot-dog-stealing, pillow-hogging, best-friend-ever sort of dog?” asks Swenson (Boom! Boom! Boom!). In lucid earth-tone and blue-green gouache panels, Raschka (A Ball for Daisy) pictures the active animals conjured by Swenson’s compound adjectives, nouns, and verbs. A cat is “sandpaper-licking, purr-purr-purr-purring, furry-stretching,” a fish might be a “coral-peeker” or “toe-nibbler,” and the set of bugs includes a bee “flower-keeper” and a “water-gliding-skimmer.” Story-time speakers may find themselves taking a nonlinear approach, backing up and repeating the queries to let listeners consider different actions and personalities. Swenson’s playful language and Raschka’s amiable cartoons lend a welcome unpredictability to this animal game. Ages 3–6. [em]Author’s agent: Sean McCarthy, Sean McCarthy Literary Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Sept.)[/em]