cover image Pug Man’s 3 Wishes

Pug Man’s 3 Wishes

Sebastian Meschenmoser, trans. from the German by David Henry Wilson. NorthSouth

In this misanthropic gem of a story, Pug Man, a bipedal pug dog, wears an expression of perpetual, pained resignation and walks like someone moving through wet concrete. When he awakens under his blanket—the initial pages show him tossing and turning—he discovers that it’s almost noon and mulls returning to bed for the rest of the day. After trailing miserably in his blanket to the bathroom, he sits on the toilet, an image that Meschenmoser (Gordon and Tapir) draws with splendid restraint rather than going for easy laughs. In the kitchen, Pug Man discovers that there’s no coffee or cereal, it’s pouring, and his newspaper is sodden. But wait! A wish-granting fairy appears! She’s a pink, doll-like bundle of enthusiastic joy, and the full-color fantasy world she conjures into existence (complete with some hilariously dopey animals) only throws Pug Man’s scowl into sharper relief. “Castle, car, swimming pool,/ You’ve got three wishes—that’s the rule,” she sings. Does Pug Man wish for a castle, car, or pool? No. His modest wishes, especially the unexpected and curmudgeonly third one, will delight readers. Rarely has abject misery been so fun. Ages 4–8. (Nov.)