cover image What Faust Saw

What Faust Saw

Matt Ottley. Dutton Books, $13.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-525-45650-6

Poor Faust is the Cassandra of canines, his warnings falling on disbelieving ears. The skittish dog howls to alert his sleeping owners to a UFO and its slithery occupants. The humans, of course, can't see what Faust is barking at, and they toss him into the backyard. There, the cringing dog has a close encounter with some Bosch-style monstrosities, from an elephant-headed pterodactyl to a many-eyed octopus. Variable type and curving lines of text accentuate the drama, soaring in the sky and ducking around corners just as the extraterrestrials do. Ottley, an Australian author/artist, paints the marauding mutants in cartoonish hues of red, yellow, blue and green to contrast with the placid, moonlit suburban setting. He portrays them as tricksters who return Faust to his house through an open window and hide behind picket fences when ""Dad"" ventures outdoors with a flashlight. Whether the extraterrestrials return to outer space is left in doubt; the only clue is a museum sign advertising a ""Life on Other Planets"" exhibition. Not a bedtime book for kids who fear things that go bump in the night, this goofy misadventure concludes with Faust sadder but wiser: ""The next time he woke up and saw something strange... he would go back to sleep."" Ages 5-8. (May)