cover image CHIP WANTS A DOG


William Wegman, . . Hyperion, $16.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-7868-0606-5

Some picture book characters yearn so ferociously for a pet that they begin to act like one, only to wake up and become human again. Wegman (Puppies) proposes a more radical solution. Chip, the title character, is not quite a boy. He is recognizably one of the author/photographer's Weimaraner stars in a button-down shirt, corduroy pants and plaid sneakers. Yet Chip appears to stand on two legs, and uses his human hands to hold the leash of his life-size, plush Weimaraner. "If I had a dog, I would teach it to do tricks," he sighs, as photos depict the expressionless toy with a stick in its mouth or standing on its head. Meanwhile, Chip's parents—also canines—deny him a pet. Chip's mother is "a cat person," decked out in a shawl with a kitten design, and his father adds to the irony with some finger-wagging: "Dogs are a lot of responsibility." Wegman follows the conventional formula until the dream sequence in which Chip becomes what he desires most. "I'm a dog!... I'm a dog!... I'm a dog!" Chip repeats, in a blurred, close-up spread of a swiftly moving Weimaraner. When Chip sits up in bed, his clothes are gone: "I don't need a dog, I am a dog," he realizes. Readers have recognized Chip's doggishness all along, but Wegman presents this foregone conclusion as a revelation. At heart, this is a typical be-yourself book, but Wegman's photos (and willing models) wryly emphasize Chip's transformation from uptight to unfettered. All ages. (May)