cover image Space Boy and His Dog

Space Boy and His Dog

Dian Curtis Regan, illus. by Robert Neubecker. Boyds Mills, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-59078-955-1

Niko has an impressive space fantasy going, aided by a tricked-out cardboard-box rocket ship, his dog, his trusty robot toy, and Neubecker’s vivid, comically earnest cartooning. But his sister, Posh, keeps trying to hijack the narration, despite Niko’s admonition that “She is not in this story.” Then Niko decides that maybe his sister, who has proved herself dismayingly competent, could have a role after all: damsel in distress, with Niko cast as the rescuing hero. “Now Posh is part of this story,” he decides, only to discover that his leading lady won’t cooperate. Dividing the story into eight chapterlike sections, Regan (Barnyard Slam) takes readers inside the head of a very imaginative child, honoring Niko’s desire to control his story while affectionately spoofing it. It’s a funny and fresh spin on sibling conflict that offers some downright philosophical musings on the notion of authorial autonomy: We may be able to imagine any story, but can we ever claim sole ownership? Don’t our characters get a say, too? Ages 3–7. Author’s agent: Ginger Knowlton, Curtis Brown. Illustrator’s agent: Linda Pratt, Wernick & Pratt. (Apr.)