cover image Piper


Emma Chichester Clark, . . Eerdmans, $17 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8028-5314-1

When Piper the puppy leaves his mother to go live with his first master, he keeps her three pieces of advice in mind: "Always obey your master. Always look both ways before you cross the street. And always help anyone in danger." But Mr. Jones's cruelty quickly becomes apparent, and Piper flees to the big city. There he saves an elderly lady from being hit by a car, but is almost lost for good in the hubbub surrounding the mishap. His luck turns, however, when the crowd of onlookers tracks him down and reunites him with the woman. "How lucky I am to have found you," says the lady, giving Piper a pet in his posh new digs. "Now we can both look after each other." Clark's (the Blue Kangaroo books) brisk storytelling keeps the story from sagging into a soap opera, and offers just enough twists (and even a chuckle or two) to keep readers turning the pages. The muted but emotionally razor-sharp pictures take on a cinematic, almost neo-realistic feel; the scenes in which the onlookers search for and find Piper possess all the drama and immediacy of live action. As for Piper himself, his kind eyes, long snout and gangly body speak volumes about his eager, good heart. And it will take a hard heart indeed to resist this story of a sweet-natured hound who finally finds the owner he deserves. Ages 5-up. (Jan.)