cover image What Are You?

What Are You?

Christian Trimmer, illus. by Mike Curato. Roaring Brook, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-250-78602-9

After enjoying a game with two new poodle acquaintances, a puggle faces an unexpected question from its playmates: “What are you?” Proudly, it replies: “I am a dog!” Learning that the puggle is a cross between a beagle and a pug, the poodles make inferences about what it might be “good at.” All pugs are skilled at hula hoop, they insist, and all beagles are adept with pogo sticks. The puggle smartly—and without rancor—turns the tables: after asking the poodles what they’re good at (“Lots of things!”), it follows up with, “Are you good at those things because you are poodles?” Now the poodles understand the folly of making others fit into biased notions of identity; one is adept at things because “I like them and I practice and I am me.” Trimmer (The Little Things) employs matter-of-fact dialogue to keep the stereotype-prompted conversation squarely focused on curiosity and empathy, while cotton candy–hued, marker-style digital art by Curato (Where Is Bina Bear?) lends the same vibe to the characters’ interplay. A human variation of the conversation opens up to a reader-equipping discussion guide. Ages 3–6. Agent (for Trimmer and Curato): Brenda Bowen, Book Group. (Oct.)