Malachy Doyle, , illus. by Julie Vivas. . Candlewick, $12.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-1561-1

This winning volume captures all the excitement and mystery of a child bonding with a new pup. After the girl narrator discovers a newborn stray pooch in an alley, she gives him some TLC. In episodic illustrations silhouetted against generous white space, Vivas (I Went Walking) shows the multi-pigtailed girl sudsing him up in a bath, caressing him and feeding him with a bottle. But why won't the puppy open his eyes? The girl then turns to her uncle for advice, who tells her, "You stroke him on the back and say, 'Open your eyes, Sleepy Pendoodle! Open your eyes, you pup!' " She tries hard to remember her uncle's words as she runs home, but just can't get it right. Did he say "Pendoodle"? "Pendiddle"? "Pendaddle"? Or even possibly "Sloppy Popwaddle"? As the heroine wracks her brain, she strokes the toast-colored puppy gently, and just when she remembers what to say and pronounces the magic words, "He opened his eyes wide!" Doyle's (The Bold Boy) word play heightens the exuberant fun, the story brims with energy, and Vivas portrays a heroine with warmth and gusto to spare. Ages 3-6. (Jan.)