cover image Spare Dog Parts

Spare Dog Parts

Alison Hughes, illus. by Ashley Spires. Orca, $19.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4598-0704-4

Sure, purebred dogs are special, but is anything more lovable than a mutt? Not for the heroine of this collaboration between Hughes (Gerbil, Uncurled) and Spires (Edie’s Ensembles), who opens the book by proudly claiming that “When my dog was made, they used leftover parts.” Spires’s ink-and-watercolor illustrations reveal just how true that is: this dog is a Frankensteinian creation with patches of tan and gray fur stitched and stapled together, four mismatched legs (one perhaps coming from a donor Dalmatian), and a pair of “melting, soft brown eyes” that provide comfort just when it’s needed. There’s no denying the tenderness between this lab-coat-wearing girl and her dog, but the cobbled-together, science-project nature of this canine isn’t exactly crowd-pleasing, something Spires seems to recognize; tacks, metal plates, and fur patches spring off of the dog’s body in one of the final scenes, leaving behind a (slightly) more conventional-looking misfit. Regardless, most readers will understand what Hughes and Spires are getting at—every dog, no matter how wonky or weird, is worthy of love. Ages 4–8. Illustrator’s agency: Painted Words. (Jan.)