Kari Rust. Owlkids (PGW, dist.), $16.95 (40p) ISBN 978-1-77147-252-4
A rascally man nicknamed the Duke and his dog, Tricky, are up to no good. The lanky Duke is dressed like a silent-film villain in a pin-striped suit and a jet-black moustache; Tricky is a lean, scrappy hound. Together, they steal fruit and trip innocent pedestrians. Worse, they go home and laugh about it. But when Ms. Paisley, a baker who’s new in town, gives Tricky a tasty treat, a warm smile, and a friendly pat—Rust paints Ms. Paisley with a round, brown, kind face, a clearly welcoming presence—Tricky experiences true goodness for the first time. The Duke plays a trick on Ms. Paisley the next day, and “for the first time, Tricky realized that what they were doing was wrong.” Unfortunately, the only way Tricky can communicate with the Duke is to play more tricks on him: a series of half-tense, half-funny scenes unfolds. Despite the clear demarcation of good and evil, debut talent Rust avoids smarminess with lots of slapstick energy, and by not insisting on Duke’s conversion at the end (although she does hint at reform). Ages 3–7. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/14/2017
Release date: 10/01/2017
Genre: Children's
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