Elise Broach. Dial Books, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-2706-9
The brother and sister narrators of this wacky romp understand Daddy's ""No Pets"" rule, but find a way to make a stray dragon stay. The scaly creature finds his way into their backyard looking ""hungry, and lost, and a little bit shy."" Finding Hoover too big to hide under the bedcovers or in the closet, and too ""flappy"" to masquerade as one of their friends, the clever duo devises creative strategies to keep Daddy in the dark. Huliska-Beith (Violet's Music) deserves a great deal of credit for making Daddy seem credible without appearing too daffy, sort of an absent-minded professor type. So that readers can simply enjoy the children's resourceful disguises for Hoover as a coat rack (they hang jackets, scarves and earmuffs on various horns and limbs), a stepladder (his scales comprise the steps) and ""fancy new lamp with a flickery flame"" (Hoover hovers on the ceiling breathing fire), to the refrain, ""Daddy didn't notice a thing."" Broach (Wet Dog!) delivers snappy pacing and a narrative voice enhanced by pitch-perfect onomatopoeic lines (e.g., at bedtime, Hoover assumes the part of ""a frilly new canopy stretching over us. It made soft sounds in the warm, green dark... hah-swish, hah-swish, hah-swish""). The full-bleed spreads teem with light, bright colors, bits of collage (some clothes and curtains incorporate actual fabric) and a lively sense of movement. Ages 4-up.
Reviewed on: 07/04/2005