cover image Rowan


Robin McKinley. Greenwillow Books, $14 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-688-10682-9

Newbery Award winner McKinley follows her picture-book debut ( My Father Is in the Navy ) with this affable tale of a girl and her pet--``I didn't know I wanted a dog. And then, one day, I did know.'' Armed with this revelation, the narrator spots a newspaper notice for Whippets and the breed is decided. The choice at the kennel becomes an easy one: ``I knew mine at once. She sprang up when I first bent over her, and kissed me on the nose.'' With grace and sensitivity this unassuming, somewhat slender story tells of a universal childhood experience. The first-person narrative lends immediacy and a youngster's perspective--though we do glimpse mother and father, this is first and foremost a kid's-eye view. And true-to-life details--the disoriented pup's initial loneliness, the girl's resultant sadness--add realism and variety. Ultimately, however, excitement and optimism shine through, feelings deftly enhanced by Ruff's somewhat hazy pastels. With its homey touches, this illustrator's debut artwork conjures up the essence of childhood; the final picture, of the gap-toothed heroine being ``kissed'' by her eponymous pooch, will melt just about any heart. Ages 4-up. (Aug.)