cover image Nellie Belle

Nellie Belle

Mem Fox, illus. by Mike Austin. S&S/Beach Lane, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4169-9005-5

Fox (Baby Bedtime) supplies the sweetly cadenced rhymes and Austin (Fire Engine No. 9) the visual comedy as they follow an eager brown dog from home to the beach and back. After digging in the backyard and running into a baker, guitarist, and a few children on the street, Nellie Belle tussles with seagulls and a crab before playing in the water with a seal: “Is it fun in the sea, Nellie Belle, Nellie Belle?/ Is it fun in the sea, Nellie Belle?/ Swimming fast and swimming free,/ in the sea, in the sea—/ is it fun in the sea, Nellie Belle?” Austin, working digitally, uses overlapping shapes and marblelike textures to create a cheerful seaside town for Nellie Belle; a run-in with some possums in a dark corner of a park sends the dog scooting back home to snuggle up with the teddy bear she left behind in the yard. It’s an energetic, romping story from start to finish, yet counterbalanced by the soothing repetitions and rhythms of Fox’s verse. Ages 4–8. Illustrator’s agent: Rubin Pfeffer, Rubin Pfeffer Content. (Dec.)