cover image Moondogs


Daniel Kirk. Putnam Publishing Group, $16.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-399-23128-5

Despite its far-flying premise, this story of extraterrestrial canines falls short of Kirk's retro-cool Lucky's 24-Hour Garage and his philosophic Bigger. In campy rhymes, the book introduces Willy Joe Jehosephat, a brainy young astronomer who spends his nights stargazing by himself. Will's father urges him to find a sidekick, so Will builds a rocket and shoots into space in search of his ideal companion: ""I'd like to get a moondog--that's the perfect pet for me./ I watch them through my telescope./ They're real, I guarantee!"" En route, Will finds that a stray mutt (visible on early spreads) has hidden aboard the craft, but Will overlooks the friendly stowaway in favor of the multi-eyed, Ceres-headed moondogs that he meets among the planet's craters. Predictably, the plain brown hound soon outshines the flamboyant lunar varieties. Kirk's smooth oil paintings are this volume's strong suit. Will's home is a kitschy suburban refuge, with Mom and Dad standing tall in the open doorway of the overlit house; pencil tucked behind his ear and eyes seemingly painted onto his shiny glasses, Will himself is the postmodern parody of a science buff. Yet the narrative voice labors to exude enthusiasm for Will's fantasy. Kirk's versatile brushwork can't conceal this tale's flimsy plot. Ages 5-up. (Mar.)