cover image Francis, the Earthquake Dog

Francis, the Earthquake Dog

Chronicle Books, Judith Ross Enderle. Chronicle Books, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8118-0630-5

Extrapolating from a historical tidbit related to the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, Enderle and Tessler (co-authors of Dear Timothy Tibbitts) produce only a bland tale. Their story begins on the night before the quake, at the St. Francis Hotel, when Edward, the son of the hotel chef, brings a stray terrier into the kitchen. The dog runs amok and disappears into the hotel, where he's quickly forgotten by all but Edward. Enderle and Tessler dilute the terror of the eventual quake by focusing on the boy's concern for the dog. However, their flat narration arouses little sympathy for Edward (""[Edward's] heart was racing. The little dog was in big trouble now. Woof! Woof! Woof! barked the little dog""). Scudder (Island Barbecue) contributes similarly wooden illustrations; her purposefully naive brushstrokes don't lend themselves to detail work, and her oversaturated fuchsia, vermilion and aquamarine palette looks bleary rather than bright. The book concludes with a brief, non-frightening ""All about Earthquakes"" wrap-up and eight tips for earthquake safety, making a final appeal to the human fascination with natural disasters. In all, no great shakes. Ages 2-8. (Apr.)