cover image Nobody's Dog

Nobody's Dog

Charlotte Graeber. Hyperion Books, $12.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7868-0109-1

This picture book's snug format (5""x7"") fits its winning tale of a small white dog in need of a friend. Thrust out of a car, the pup with ""one brown ear (the right one), two brown paws (the front ones), and a feathery tail"" searches up and down River Road for a home. Despite repeated setbacks--too small for one family, too noisy for another, too much entirely for yet another--his persistence eventually wins him the heart of a persnickety (and lonely) gardener. Graeber (Fudge) builds her tale as sturdily as a little house, using repetition to bolster the gentle cadences and colorful descriptions (e.g., after a meal, the dog's stomach ""bulges like a small balloon""; after adopting the dog, Miss Pepper's heart feels ""full as a bucket""). The small-scale domestic canvas and abundance of cozy detail recall Cynthia Rylant's Mister Putter and Tabby books. Root (Someplace Else) matches the delicate tone in sun-dappled watercolor and gouache art, both vignettes and full-page illustrations, and he adds an element of mischief as well. Quietly laced with humor--be it the large, substantial home, car and selves of the Fitzes (who ""liked things big"") or the froglike posture of Miss Pepper as she shoves a boulder against her garden gate in a vain attempt to keep the canine intruder out--the pictures add yards of appeal. Ages 4-8. (June)