cover image Two Friends, One Dog, and a Very Unusual Week

Two Friends, One Dog, and a Very Unusual Week

Sarah L. Thomson, illus. by Vin Vogel. Peachtree, $16.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-68263-516-2

Nine-year-old Emily Robbins and her family share an apartment building with its manager, Mr. Armand, who keeps chickens, and another family, whose chiding mother leaves rules-based reminders around the building. Emily’s life is turned upside-down when a talkative girl named Rani moves solo into the building’s unoccupied attic with her massive black dog, Otto. Rani, whose wildlife photographer mother is working in Patagonia, says she’s never been to school and cites time spent in Antarctica and Borneo. Rani exhibits a freewheeling, Pippi Longstocking–like perspective—creating a slide in her quarters, building an immediate rapport with local adults, and demonstrating an unusual understanding of social constructs and norms—but her hijinks eventually lead to trouble with various rule-intent adults, as when Otto is taken away because he lacks tags. Fast-paced episodes, nimbly captured in b&w comic-strip-style cartoons from Vogel (Too Much Slime!), keep things moving as Thomson (Wombat Underground) showcases Rani’s vivid imagination and, in affectionate prose, the way her welcoming attitude brings community to the fore. Emily’s family is white; Rani is described as having brown skin and black curls. Ages 8–12. (Apr.)