cover image PET WASH


Dayle Ann Dodds, , illus. by Tor Freeman. . Candlewick, $10.99 (24pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-0990-0

With buckets, brushes and spray bottles scattered about their lawn, two amiable young entrepreneurs open a "Pet Wash" stand. They lather a cooperative orange cat, which they distract with treats and a toy bird ("Wash your cat?/ We can do that!/ Spic and span in no time flat"). They fluff a bear's hair "with loving care" and sponge an eel ("It's no big deal"). As business picks up, Dodds (The Great Divide) abbreviates the patter: "Seal? Deal. Rhino? Fine-O. Hippo? Zippo!" The author perfectly times the clincher, when a boy interrupts the rhyme to ask, "Excuse me! Can you wash my… baby brother?" The fearless salesmen take one look at the messy creature and close up shop. In winsome acrylic images, debut artist Freeman pays careful attention to the unusual clients and the practical tools of the trade. She pairs small, curious children with imposing but smiling pets; one mild girl brings a scaly green crocodile, its dangerous snout closed with a charming red ribbon. The illustrator shows every client receiving personalized treatment, including an ant tenderly cleaned with a Q-tip. Washers and washees alike exude kindness in this gentle and sweetly funny venture. Ages 2-up. (Sept.)