cover image Circle Dogs

Circle Dogs

Kevin Henkes. Greenwillow Books, $18.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-688-15446-2

Henkes, who spoke to an elementary-age audience in Owen and Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse, here gets down to basics with this lively description of a day in the life of two dachshunds. The tube-shaped dogs--one rust-orange with black ears, the other vice versa (both have blue noses and collars)--form circles while they are resting. At dawn, they uncurl and greet a mother, father, little girl and baby boy (""clink-clank,... clink./ Hear their tags?/ Mrooon, mro-o-o-o-on./ They stretch and stretch and moan and yawn""). The story follows a morning-to-evening sequence of mealtimes, playtimes and naptimes, and comes full-circle, as it were, with the dogs bedded down for the night. Henkes infuses even this simplest of texts with humor: at breakfast, ""Papa drops his toast./ Oops! Where did it go?/ The circle dogs know."" He balances full sentences with fragments, and punctuates the story with the everyday sounds of barking, crunching and doorbell-ringing. Yaccarino's (Goodnight, Mr. Night) opaque, geometric graphics and limited gouache palette complement the concise statements. Squares and rectangles form window views inside and outside the house, and hem in the fluid shapes of the dogs and people. Author and artist judiciously repeat imagery and phrases (""Mama calls them pooches. `Those pooches!' says Mama""); and the diversity of words and sentence structures ensure a book that runs circles around the usual primer. Ages 2-up. (Sept.)