cover image Mr. Putney's Quacking Dog

Mr. Putney's Quacking Dog

Jon Agee, Scholastic/di Capua, $16.95 (48p) ISBN 978-0-545-16203-6

Mr. Putney has the bald pate, brushy mustache, and unsmiling stare of a stereotypical schoolteacher—the better to cast deadpan expressions at his oddball collection of animals, from an industrious "boa constructor" to a "clangaroo" that wears cymbals on its hands and feet. Agee (The Retired Kid) arranges this word game so that readers get a question and visual clues, then can identify the creature with a turn of the page. Following an image of a scaly brown critter on a nightstand ("Who wakes Mr. Putney up in the morning?"), Agee introduces the alarmadillo. When a red shellfish splashes Mr. Putney with green soup ("What do you call Mr. Putney's messy lunch companion?"), he presents the slobster. Even wordplay amateurs stand a chance of naming the title's quacking dog (a duckschund who barks—or is that buacks?—"Quarf!"). The visual contrast between the fussy-looking Mr. Putney and the various animal mutants is played up by the juxtaposition of the creatures' irreverent exclamations ("Yo!" shouts the alarmadillo) with Mr. Putney's dry delivery—"Comfy?" he asks the cramel that's shoved into his backpack. All ages. (Aug.)