cover image Dogku


Andrew Clements, , illus. by Tim Bowers. . S&S, $16.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-689-85823-9

Clements (Lunch Money) cleverly combines haiku and an endearing canine protagonist in this jaunty tale, written primarily from the pooch's perspective. After the friendly creature arrives on the doorstep of a family's home, the mother lets him inside and tends to his needs: “First food, then a bath./ The food was a lot more fun./ Still, it all feels good.” As the animal happily accepts scraps at the breakfast table, an important topic surfaces: “A dog needs a name./ Rags? Mutt? Pooch? No, not Rover./ Mooch. Yes, Mooch! Perfect.” The pup is bored when the kids go off to school and their mother is outdoors gardening, but Mooch soon finds a solution (“Chew on dirty socks./ Roll around in week-old trash./ Ahhh... that's much better”). Sitting in on a family meeting, Mooch mistakenly overhears the word “pound” and is fretful when the father drives off in his car. But the new pet is overjoyed when the man returns with propitious purchases: “A new doggy bed!/ Food, a bowl, a squeaky toy!/ Mooch has found his home.” Never forced, Clements's nimbly crafted verse flows freely and delivers ample humor. Bowers's animated oil paintings comically capture the playful pup's antics, revealing Mooch in the tub, eagerly shaking water and suds all over the mother; smiling while riding in the car, his head stuck out the window; and half submerged in the overturned garbage can. A spirited demonstration of the versatility—and fun—of haiku. Ages 4-8. (June)