cover image Spike


Paulette Bogan. Putnam Publishing Group, $12.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-399-23163-6

Bogan's debut be-yourself animal story, illustrated in a naive style, holds no surprises. Spike, a spotted canine, finds doghood dull. He plays at being a horse, but cannot carry a rider. He tries to act like a chicken, but crushes a nestful of eggs--to unlikely cackles of amusement from the hens. Oddly, readers witness only the unfortunate results of Spike's experiments. For instance, Spike stands at a pond watching Jeffrey the fish, who can ""dive really deep. `Splish, splash,' went Jeffrey./ `Brrr,' whined Spike. He felt wet and cold./ `I'm not a very good fish.' "" Bogan describes neither Spike's wade into the water nor his swim. Her wavery pen-and-ink drawings show him dry, then dripping; the scenes are set against simple watercolor washes of blue (water) and evergreen (grass). Predictably, Spike's identity crisis is resolved when his loving owner tells him, "" `You're a very good dog.'/ `Woof, woof,' barked Spike./ `That's just what I am!' "" The mechanical text and artless images present a most familiar plot in a most pedestrian manner. Ages 2-6. (Mar.)