cover image Bow-Wow-Meow


Blanca Lacasa, trans. from the Spanish by Kim Griffin and Ben Dawlatly, illus. by Gómez. NubeOcho (Consortium, dist.), $16.95 (40p) ISBN 978-84-945415-7-5

Fabio, the beaglelike dog starring in this humorous yet sensitive story, confounds his human family: he doesn’t fetch, bark, wag his tail, or “do anything that other dogs do.” Initially, Lacasa and Gómez play the situation for laughs: Fabio looks at his keepers with deep skepticism as they bark at him and cram tennis balls in their mouths while attempting to show him how to be a dog. One night, the family’s redheaded son, Max, discovers his pet’s secret: Fabio is much more comfortable hanging around with a mangy crew of cats, sharpening his claws (daintily, using a nail file), getting tangled up in yarn, and joining in a moonlit chorus that sounds “something like a howl crossed with a meow.” Understanding what Fabio needs and wants (including a saucer of milk) unlocks a new chapter in this family’s life. Though the story can easily be enjoyed on a superficial level, the subtly delivered message—that it’s perfectly fine when one’s sense of self doesn’t match one’s exterior—offers a meaningful parallel for readers and families who are dealing with or discussing gender identity. Ages 4–8. (May)