cover image Barkus


Patricia MacLachlan, illus. by Marc Boutavant. Chronicle, $14.99 (56p) ISBN 978-1-4521-1182-7

Forget about every dog having its day: floppy-eared Barkus owns the entire calendar in this upbeat collection of five stories that bridges picture book and chapter book terrain. Barkus is the “smartest dog in the whole world,” according to globetrotting Uncle Everton, who gives Barkus to his niece Nicky. “Does he bark?” asks Nicky’s father. “Only when he wants to,” replies Uncle Everton. But smarts alone don’t explain Barkus’s charisma. He follows Nicky to school and, instead of getting the boot, becomes the class dog (“Maybe he will help us all learn to read,” says the teacher, after Barkus barks approvingly at the word “dog”). After Barkus decides he doesn’t want a “quiet little party” for his birthday, the neighborhood dogs show up and raise the roof, and when Barkus finds a kitten, he gets to both keep and name it. Boutavant (Edmond, the Moonlit Party) contributes cheery, brightly colored cartooning with a 1960s-minimalist aesthetic, but what’s truly beguiling is MacLachlan’s (The Poet’s Dog) benevolent worldview, which suggests that anything’s possible if you are clever, reasonably well behaved, and fun to be around. Ages 6–9. Author’s agent: Rubin Pfeffer, Rubin Pfeffer Content. (June)