A preschool-age boy narrates this short early reader, a straightforward story about a mischievous dog and the boy who loves him.
The brown-and-white dog, Tom, creates problems wherever he goes. He yanks the tablecloth and sends the dinner to the floor. He leaves fleas in the parents’ bed. He knocks over the flat-screen TV during Dad’s football game. Tom even lifts his leg on Mom’s special sunflowers. Worst of all, he irks the family cat, Kit, who one night escapes. Tom is threatened with eviction from the family but is redeemed when he helps the boy see where Kit is hiding. This short but complete story is told in succinct sentences with just a few words per page, often the repeated admonishment “Bad dog, Tom!” set in a speech balloon. Though this is intended for new readers, toddlers who are just transitioning into real stories will also appreciate the simple plot with its subtle message of unconditional love that endures even when someone is naughty. McPhail’s gentle illustrations in pen and ink with watercolor washes are appealing as always, conveying both humor and emotion. Not every artist can convincingly portray a mother’s surprise, a cat’s frazzlement and a dog’s laughter all in one illustration.
Tom is full of curiosity, like a lot of young’uns. Not bad at all. (Early reader. 2-7)