cover image A Flea in the Ear

A Flea in the Ear

Stephen Wyllie. Dutton Books, $14.99 (26pp) ISBN 978-0-525-45648-3

A stalwart but too trusting dog, guard of a henhouse, outwits a chicken-snatching fox in this tale of clever revenge. Polite dialogue fuels the narrative (""Please tell me."" ""I couldn't possibly."") as the hound is tricked into trying out a flea cure--and leaving his feathered charges untended. When the poor pooch returns, flealess, and discovers himself henless and, most likely, jobless, he conceives of a plan to get back at the fox and recover his chickens. A bucolic country setting, wrought as delicate watercolor landscapes, serves to heighten the animal antics featured in the foreground. The animals themselves occupy a happy middle ground: while essentially realistic, their expressions and postures bespeak a range of dramatic possibilities. The flap-eared dog with lolling tongue, almond eyes and gullible nature is especially amusing. He appears to have stepped out of central casting: A Dog of Little Brain. Equally animated is the fox, the very picture of wiliness, orange eyes glinting. A fun jaunt of a picture book. Ages 3-7. (June)