cover image Puppy and Bear: The First Day of School

Puppy and Bear: The First Day of School

Larry Dane Brimner, illus. by John Bendall-Brunello. Two Lions, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-5039-5096-2

Brimner (Trick or Treat, Old Armadillo) and Bendall-Brunello (Otter Out of Water) introduce two new friends whose happy summer of play comes to an end as Bear, who is older than Puppy, heads off to school. The book’s emotional tone doesn’t vary much: Bear starts out grouchy and bored, but Puppy quickly cheers him up, and that crankiness never returns; Puppy’s sadness over being left behind while Bear is at school is remedied with similar speed. Bendall-Brunello’s pencil-and-watercolor artwork brings a touch of anthropomorphism to the friends, and his tender scenes emphasize the closeness between the pals as they pretend to be pirates, share a bicycle, and splash around in a creek. It’s more a friendship story than a school one, but younger siblings should easily empathize with Puppy’s feelings of being left out. Ages 3–7. Author’s agent: Karen Grencik, Red Fox Literary. Illustrator’s agency: Shannon Associates. (July)