cover image THE AMAZING LOVE STORY OF MR. MORF: An Astonishing Circus Romance

THE AMAZING LOVE STORY OF MR. MORF: An Astonishing Circus Romance

Carll Cneut, . . Clarion, $15 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-618-33170-3

Carrying a bone-shaped suitcase and wearing a bowler hat, circus dog Mr. Morf hits the road in search of his soul mate. Mr. Morf, who looks to be a Jack Russell terrier gone thick around the middle, has great agility on the high wire: "He is very fast and very good. He stretches his right leg first... then his left leg... then off he goes!" But lately he notices that all his circus friends—two polar bears, two juggling storks and two chimpanzees on the flying trapeze—have paired off. "They all had each other and Mr. Morf had no one." In his travels, the squat white dog courts six unsuitable partners, including a cat who hates dogs, a swallow who "holiday[s] abroad" and an owl whose daytime sleeping habits make conversation impossible. Mr. Morf sadly returns home, where he falls to the ground in a fit of hilarity. He has acquired an itchy passenger and a true love: "So tiny, so sweet, and oh! so very different, only a flea could tickle Mr. Morf to bits." Belgian author-illustrator Cneut makes his U.S. debut with this serviceable tale, in which his densely textured acrylic-and-pastel illustrations outshine the wordy exposition. Animals in circus garb float lightly in framed, rectangular pages that lend a stillness rather than a momentum to the visual sequence. But shifting perspectives and highly polished compositions may well keep readers engaged until the flea appears for the amiable, if abrupt, conclusion. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)