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Dog days of summer

Dogs, cats, and…a sloth. These picture books showcase the comfort, companionship, aggravation, upheaval, and education that pets can bring into a family’s life.

stanton_monday, wednesday, and every other weekendIn Karen Stanton’s Monday, Wednesday, and Every Other Weekend, Henry and his dog Pomegranate live with Mama on Mondays, Wednesdays, and alternating weekends and with Papa the rest of the time. Rich, colorful art done with acrylics and collage works together with the text to show two inviting homes with unique sounds, smells, and colors. While Henry reports the delights of each place, he always notes that Pomegranate “wants to go home.” One morning when Pomegranate disappears, Henry knows just where to look — the first home, where they all lived together. (Feiwel, 3–6 years)

gall_dog vs catAnyone who has ever shared a space will recognize the dilemma that develops in Chris Gall’s Dog vs. Cat when Mr. Button brings home a dog the same day that Mrs. Button brings home a cat and they put them in the same room. The pets try to get along, but they’re just too different. Text and pictures are layered with humor, and the bold colored-pencil and digitally colored art heightens the odd-couple drama with every page turn. Ultimately Dog and Cat make amends and join forces to escape yet another new roommate — a baby. (Little, Brown, 3–6 years)

offill_sparkyIn Jenny Offill’s Sparky!, a young girl wants a pet, but what kind? Her mother okays any critter that “doesn’t need to be walked or bathed or fed,” so the girl chooses a sloth. Her excitement turns to disappointment as reality sets in: “It was two days before I saw him awake.” However, while Sparky is no whirling dervish, he is an endearing companion. Chris Appelhans’s striking watercolor and pencil illustrations incorporate a muted color palette of pinks, browns, and green-blues. (Random/Schwartz & Wade, 3–6 years)

adderson_norman, speakTurnabouts abound in Norman, Speak! by Caroline Adderson. A boy decides his family should take home the neediest dog in the shelter. The dog, Norman, seems happy and eager enough, but doesn’t respond to simple commands. A serendipitous meeting in the park with another dog and owner reveals that Norman only understands Chinese. There are lessons about patience as well as intercultural understanding — but they’re very lightly worn, and the casual line of Qin Leng’s digitally colored ink illustrations reminds us that this is a warm family story most of all. (Groundwood, 4–7 years)

From the July 2014 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

Shara Hardeson About Shara Hardeson

Shara Hardeson is a former editorial assistant at The Horn Book Guide.

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