cover image THE POCKET DOGS


Margaret Wild, THE POCKET DOGSMargaret Wild<. , $15.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-439-23973-8

An Australian team confidently delivers a tale about overcoming fear. Mr. Pockets, a kindly middle-aged gentleman with a large nose and a polka-dot muffler, carries his two small dogs, Biff and Buff, in his overcoat pockets everywhere he goes. The right pocket has a hole, though, and he loses Biff when the seam opens and the dog falls out onto the supermarket floor. Several patrons offer to rescue Biff, but he isn't interested in making friends and runs away: "Biff didn't like being a shopping basket dog. He was a pocket dog, Mr. Pockets' pocket dog." Luckily, Mr. Pockets locates Biff after another suspenseful moment or two. Wild (Our Granny) uses short words and repetitive phrases to convey a depth of emotion. Along with the main theme of getting lost and separated, the book contains a premonitory dream of Biff's about becoming separated from his owner, plus a subplot about communication gaps—the dogs try to warn Mr. Pockets about the fraying pocket, but for all his kindliness, he cannot understand them. King's (A Special Kind of Love) benevolent, well-padded people and child's-eye perspective of legs and carts add charm and credence to the tale: Biff's dream is scary without becoming too terrifying, and the portrayal of the kindly shoppers will reassure youngsters that Biff will be okay until he finds his way back to his rightful place. Ages 3-7. (Apr.)