cover image STANLEY'S PARTY


Linda Bailey, , illus. by Bill Slavin. . Kids Can, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-55337-382-7

It is truly a dog's life for the barrel-chested pooch Stanley, once he discovers that he can loll on the forbidden couch, crank up the stereo and raid the fridge with impunity—as long as he covers his tracks before "[his] people" return from their frequent late nights out. Knowing that readers will find parallels in their own covert episodes, Bailey and Slavin (previously teamed for the Good Times Travel Agency series) extol the heady liberation that comes from Stanley's pushing the bad behavior envelope. "The couch was more comfortable than he'd ever dreamed.... He put his paws up on the cushions. He sprawled and squirmed and sniffed the leather trim. The couch was wonderful!" Working in nubby and almost iridescent acrylics, Slavin captures Stanley in a state of illicit, legs-in-the-air ecstasy. His portrayals of dogs throughout offer a hilarious, knowing perspective. The lush life comes crashing down, however, when Stanley decides to share the fun with his canine friends (including the memorably named Gassy Jack), and word hits the doggie grapevine, bringing out "Drooling dogs. Dainty dogs. Dogs that needed a bath." Yet readers will cheer that the lesson of the resulting canine melée is directed not at Stanley, but rather his mildly neglectful owners. This is first-class entertainment all the way, with a last line—"If you don't believe me, ask your dog"—that's cheekiness itself. Ages 3-7. (Mar.)