cover image Good Boy

Good Boy

Sergio Ruzzier. Atheneum, $15.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4814-9906-4

This gem of a story by Ruzzier (Fox & Chick: The Party and Other Stories) stars a boy in a green T-shirt that doesn’t quite meet his shorts. He has an exceedingly well-trained dog, and the comedy comes from the boy’s increasingly improbable commands. “Sit,” the boy says to the dog. “Stay. Roll over.” Pretty soon, they’re off to harder things: “Juggle,” the boy directs, and the hound obligingly lofts a ball of yarn, a bone, a liquid-filled drinking glass, and more. The dog cooks a meal and serves it, repairs a boat and sails the boy to an island, then the two blast into outer space (“Go,” says the boy from inside the rocket they’ve built). The unflappable child never seems surprised by his canine’s superb competence, and he’s willing to help out where necessary. When the duo opens the door to venture outside, ink-and-watercolor spot illustrations open out into views of land and sea bathed in warm, golden light. The sparse text, the tidiness with which Ruzzier works out his concept, and the endearing qualities of his two heroes make the book a small classic. Ages 4–8. [em]Agent: Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Feb.) [/em]