cover image Smart Dog

Smart Dog

Ralph Leemis. Boyds Mills Press, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-56397-109-9

Leemis's ( Mister Momboo's Hat ) amiable story of a dog and its daydreaming master celebrates the virtues of simplicity. A retirement-age narrator addresses his floppy-eared, gray-and-white pooch: ``If you were a smart dog, you'd chase that rabbit.'' Warming to his subject, the man predicts that a canine prodigy could dance gracefully atop a piano, conduct a string quartet while juggling, travel via Concorde and make big bucks. Yet after the dog's master considers spending such a star's riches on a cozy country house, it dawns on him that he and his pet already lounge on the porch of an ideal home. A final illustration of the dog quietly juggling in the yard, out of human sight, confirms that it is indeed quite an accomplished pooch. Demarest's ( No Peas for Nellie ; My Little Red Car ) loose sketches, each roughed in with sunny watercolors, achieve an illusion of ease and effortlessness that matches the author's theme of happy leisure. This is a story where adult values win out, although children can easily respond to such escapades as the dog's leading a parade. Ages 5-8. (Feb.)