cover image DOG BLUE


Polly Dunbar, . . Candlewick, $14.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-2476-7

In Dunbar's (Flyaway Katie ) impressive second offering, a child imagines the dog of his dreams, and when the real thing comes along, amends his wish to achieve happiness. Bertie loves blue. "He had a blue sweater, a blue dog collar, blue shoes, but no blue dog." With a soft pencil and pastel watercolor washes, Dunbar creates spot illustrations that bring to mind Sendak's early work. Bertie sports a comfy-looking blue turtleneck and blue shoes, and nearly dances across the pale yellow spreads as he throws a stick "for his pretend blue dog," then fetches it himself. When Bertie finds a little spotted dog, "all alone and looking for an owner," he rejoices. Dunbar shifts the background to a pale blue that seems to envelop boy and dog. The spots on the pooch resonate with the simple dot eyes an o-shaped mouth of the lad until they seem part of a whole. Bertie lifts the dog high in the air, then falters. The dog isn't blue. But when Bertie turns his back, Dunbar depicts both boy and dog as bereft. Bertie soon solves the problem, though: he names the dog Blue. Charmingly, in their unusually equitable relationship, Bertie does as many tricks as his dog does. "Blue really loves Bertie," Dunbar concludes. "Bertie really loves Blue. Especially when... it's Bertie's turn to fetch!" Readers will enjoy watching Bertie resolve the fulfillment of his fantasy, thanks to Dunbar's polished artwork and skilled pacing. Ages 2-5. (Aug.)