cover image Nothing but a Dog

Nothing but a Dog

Bobbi Katz, , illus. by Jane Manning. . Dutton, $16.99 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-525-47858-4

The desire for a dog is a common theme, and Katz's (The Monsterologist ) story concerns a girl whose longing for one pervades every waking moment. An afternoon of kite flying might be a success, but then “you feel the wind in your hand—it starts up—that kind of sad, achy feeling of if you only had a dog.” Despite a light touch with the particulars (“there is no real cure for it. Not learning to play the trumpet. Or being vice president of the Tree Climbers Club”), it gets repetitive. Manning's (Cat Nights ) paintings picture the girl with large, expressive eyes and a life full of absorbing activities and friends. It's hard not to come away with a sense of the narrator as curiously oblivious to the many blessings her life contains—boots with “zippers and all soft fur inside,” her “very own workbench with real tools,” and her lamentations about the one thing she doesn't have may make some readers (especially dogless ones) wince. When the dog finally shows up on the final page, it isn't a minute too soon. Ages 5–8. (Mar.)