cover image Pushkin Meets the Bundle

Pushkin Meets the Bundle

Harriet Ziefert. Atheneum Books, $16 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-689-81413-6

Jealousy of a new baby is the well-trod theme of this fairly predictable story, which depends on the art for its imaginative flourishes. The narrator, Pushkin the dog, enjoys his home life with Kate and Michael until the arrival of a baby consumes all of their attention. Saaf, previously paired with Ziefert for Wee G., cleverly amplifies Pushkin's role as a stand-in for an older sibling. His pert, angular gouaches show Pushkin as a cross between a dog and a doted-upon child: he sleeps in a four-poster bed, and pictures of him adorn the walls of the house. Pushkin does handstands and sometimes walks on two legs, and when Ziefert mentions that Pushkin ""plays ball"" with Michael, Saaf shows him swinging a baseball bat. Even with the playful art, however, the story never breaks free of its familiar formula. In the end, Pushkin, imbued with plenty of personality, tries to cajole a bawling baby by performing all of his tricks; the infant laughs, and Pushkin decides that he ""might just get to like this baby after all."" For a more tender treatment of this theme, see Rosemary Wells and Susan Jeffers's McDuff and the Baby; for a more vibrant exploration, Kevin Henkes's Julius, the Baby of the World is still top dog. Ages 3-7. (Apr.)