cover image The Kooken

The Kooken

Julia Lebentritt. Henry Holt & Company, $14.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-1749-6

Kooken, a lovable but destructive Doberman, lives with Granny, whose stretch pants and curlers belong to no ordinary picture book grandmother. When niece Johanna visits, Kooken devours her cello, thinking it's some strange animal. Fortunately, Johanna discovers she can use the animal as a replacement: ``She rubbed across his chest with the bow. `DOHHHHHHHHHHHH . . . ' The windowpanes vibrated.'' She practices on this singular instrument--``the Kooken''--all summer and brings down the house with him at Carnegie Hall. This truly kooky tale, enlivened by scrawly, dynamic illustrations, remains fluid and engrossing despite its odd turns. Oubrerie is especially adept at capturing the ever-changing doggy moods, though Granny often looks rather unpleasant and Johanna's apparent age varies from picture to picture. Still, readers who can appreciate the often sophisticated shenanigans will shout ``encore!'' Ages 6-8. (May)