cover image Spike: Ugliest Dog in the Universe

Spike: Ugliest Dog in the Universe

Debra Frasier. S&S/Beach Lane, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4424-1452-5

Using secondhand denim both for a canvas and for collaged elements, Frasier (A Fabulous Fair Alphabet) tells the happy-sad story of a sensitive canine soul. As if it isn’t bad enough that Spike wins an “Ugliest Dog in the Universe” contest (“A dog can’t help the way he looks. Get to know me! I’m good-hearted. Loyal. Smart”), he is then abandoned by his jerk of an owner. His journey from potential animal shelter inmate to hometown hero (he foils a cat-napping) and member of a loving home isn’t the smoothest; Frasier is a talky writer with a fondness for exclamation points and asides. But she’s also an undeniably inventive artist who uses her raw material in unexpected ways—turning multiple waistbands into a frame, making the jeans’ double stitching serve as steps on a porch, and playing with rips and frays to convey a sense of inner beauty exposed. And Spike himself is very much like a pair of well-worn, much-loved jeans. Not conventionally pretty? Sure. Steadfast and comforting? Absolutely. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)