cover image Bad Boy, Good Boy

Bad Boy, Good Boy

Kay Chorao. Abrams, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4197-0520-5

Chorao (All the Seasons of the Year) introduces an anthropomorphic puppy with a big heart and a nose for trouble in this uneven collection of four tales. Even when Sam is being “bad,” his intentions are anything but. He disrupts his grandparents’ and parents’ activities—apologizing each time—as he barrels through the yard to retrieve his friend Olive’s lost hat. In other stories, Sam agrees to help his discombobulated Grandpa put together a midnight snack, makes a mess with paints in the classroom, and sneaks outdoors to rescue a bird that has fallen from its nest. Chorao sometimes keeps readers in the dark about Sam’s motivations, later revealing the “good” behind his “bad” actions. Children aren’t likely to mind that, but they may be troubled by how often Sam’s family and friends angrily call him a “bad boy”—Sam may be slovenly, careless, and unpredictable, but the adults in his life frequently come across as callous or even verbally abusive. Chorao’s visual storytelling is strong—her watercolor, gouache, and black pen panel illustrations are suggestive of a graphic novel for youngest readers—but the underlying story disappoints. Ages 5–8. (May)