Such a Good Boy

Marianna Coppo. Chronicle, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-4521-7774-8

Pairing a deadpan narrative with analogously wry, spare tempera and pastel art, this story introduces Buzz, a pampered pooch who “pretty much has it all.” But Buzz sometimes feels pressured “to keep up the family name,” a duty underscored by a wall showcasing portraits of his ancestors, all stylishly coiffed—and all named Buzz. Outdoors, the immaculate white dog is kept on an exceptionally short leash, held by his unseen owner who repeatedly barks “No!” at any sort of houndlike behavior. Tethered even at the dog park, along with a passel of dour doggies, Buzz breaks protocol to roll gleefully in a puddle, and is taken straight to the pet groomer. He escapes out the groomer’s back door, inspired by a freewheeling pink bird who accompanies him as he takes full advantage of his freedom, exploring, digging holes, and getting delightfully, doggedly dirty. Coppo (Petra) brings her droll story to an open-ended finale: viewing flyers offering a reward for his return, Buzz fears his unleashed spree “wouldn’t last,” but a final page shows Buzz, now filthy, and asks a leading question: “Or will it?” Ages 5–8. [em](Feb.) [/em]