cover image Smick!


Doreen Cronin, illus. by Juana Medina. Viking, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-670-78578-0

Writing in short, emphatic phrases, Cronin (the Click Click Moo books) introduces Smick, an eminently playful dog who happily shows off his best tricks. Newcomer Medina does a remarkable job of encapsulating Smick’s essential dogginess in just a few exuberant black lines with a crayonlike texture: aside from a slim collar that displays Smick’s name, the rough outline of Smick’s body is all that separates him from the pages’ white backgrounds. The narration assumes the voice of Smick’s unseen owner, offering commands (“Go, Smick, go!”) and praise (“Good, Smick!”). After demonstrating his ability to sit and fetch a photographic stick, Smick befriends Chick, a tiny bird who consists of a single oval flower petal, upon which Medina has drawn a beak, wings, eyes, and stick legs. There’s a tense moment when it seems like Smick might gobble up Chick (“No, Smick, No!”), but before long these two become “Sidekick” and “Sidechick,” mutually devoted friends. It’s a straightforward and satisfying friendship story in both its concept and execution. Ages 3–5. [em]Author’s agent: Holly McGhee, Pippin Properties. Illustrator’s agent: Gillian MacKenzie, Gillian MacKenzie Agency. (Feb.) [/em]