cover image Toby


Hazel Mitchell. Candlewick, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-7636-8093-0

Inspired by her own dog’s adoption story, illustrator Mitchell’s (Kenya’s Art) first book as author centers on a boy who has moved into a new neighborhood with his (presumably single) father. Featuring a pale color scheme dominated by blues and beiges, the mixed-media art, displayed in full-page and panel configurations, dominates the pages. The perfunctory text consists of the boy’s succinct commentary and dialogue with his father. “Well, if you promise to take care of it, we can,” says the man in response to his son’s request for a dog. At a shelter, the child selects Toby, a furry, floppy-eared dog who has difficulty adjusting to his new life, despite the boy’s prodding and training efforts. After the father suggests, “Maybe Toby isn’t the right dog for us after all,” the dog rapidly picks up a few tricks. But while it seems clear that Toby has found his home, the story doesn’t end so much as stop, abruptly. The highlight of this getting-to-know-you tale is Mitchell’s visual channeling of her characters’ emotions, both human and canine. Ages 4–6. Agent: Ginger Knowlton, Curtis Brown. (Sept.)