cover image Follow Carl!

Follow Carl!

Alexandra Day. Farrar Straus Giroux, $12.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-374-34380-4

Day's latest does not lead the pack of her almost wordless picture books about the baby-sitting rottweiler Carl, but it nevertheless offers an idyllic vision to its readers. Carl and baby Madeleine are supposed to be napping when the neighborhood children approach the bedroom window and suggest a game of Follow the Leader. ""You can be the leader!"" they tell Carl amid the book's sole passage of text. Less mischievous than in his previous appearances (skipping out during naptime is Carl's only real prank here), the irresistible rottweiler conducts the children on a walk through suburban fields, pausing to lead them in stretching out their back legs, marching atop a short stone ledge, etc. With Madeleine riding Carl pony-style, they go to town, sit up and beg (successfully) for treats at a bakery and try out the revolving door of a well-stocked toy store. By the time Madeleine's mother comes to check on the nappers, everyone (including Carl's old friend the Irish terrier) is back in Madeleine's bedroom, striking sleeping-dog poses. Carl is at his doggiest: he has the kids rolling over, carrying sticks in their mouths and chasing a squirrel. Day's watercolors look so natural that it's possible to believe the story for a minute or two-certainly, the combination of grassy settings, friendly village shops and, of course, tender companionship adds up to an excursion virtually any reader would enjoy. All ages. (Sept.)