cover image Pugdog


Andrea U'Ren. Farrar Straus Giroux, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-374-36149-5

A gargoyle-faced puppy grins from the appealing dust jacket of U'Ren's debut, inviting dog lovers to hear its story. This is the fawn-brown, muscular Pugdog, who drools incessantly and loves romping in the dirt. Pugdog looks tough and always wants to play. One day at the vet's, ""Pugdog didn't whimper once as the vet removed a long splinter.... `He's such a good boy!' said [Pugdog's owner] Mike proudly. `He?' asked the vet. `She! Pugdog's a she! See?' "" Mike's attitude toward his pet quickly changes. Pugdog finds her black spiked collar replaced by ribbons and a leash ("" `Like a real lady,' as Mike would say""), when what she really wants is to be a ""big, slobbering mess"" at the park. U'Ren shows how Mike's sensibilities are shaken when his girl dog gets muddy, and again when an immaculately coifed white poodle turns out to be male. ""I can see I'm the one who has a lot to learn!"" Mike moans at the conclusion, slapping his forehead. The author-illustrator's winsome portraits make the wiggly, wrinkly Pugdog resemble both a pug and a bulldog; aficionados of snub-nosed, bulging-eyed breeds will find these images hilarious. And U'Ren's marvelous pictures underscore the message that traditional gender roles need not apply. Ages 3-6. (Apr.)