The misplaced worship of man’s best friend perturbs its young master.
Sid loves Murphy and thinks he’s just about the best dog in the world. Murphy loves Sid too, but Sid has noticed a disturbing fact about his pet. Murphy doesn’t just love Sid—he worships him like a god. In rhyming verse Sid explains how Murphy will apologize when his owner is the one clearly at fault. He thinks Sid rewards his good behavior and punishes his bad with events (rain, a lovely day) that are clearly outside the boy’s control. Saying he’s not a supreme being (and maybe there isn’t one at all), the boy wrestles with the canine’s religious convictions. Picture books questioning the very existence of the Almighty are rarities. It may well be that large swaths of the population will miss the book’s point, begging the question as to whether or not the children of atheists would embrace it at all. Additionally, an offhanded comment that refers to Murphy’s prayers as “silly” will give some readers pause. Shansby’s digital illustrations give a welcome, lighthearted feel to what might otherwise come off as too heavy a message. They march in step with Weingarten, though readers are left pondering the point of a conspicuous church that makes a cameo in the background of one page.
A rare if not unwelcome agnostic rumination. (Picture book. 4-7)