Zanville (How BJ Diana Came to Live at the Z House, 2012, etc.) offers a warm, realistic picture book about getting a new pet.
Noah’s mom has promised him that they can think about getting a dog when he turns 6. Like most little kids, however, he assumes “thinking about” means doing; like most parents, his mom hopes she can put off making a tough decision by using the old standard, “I’ll think about it.” But when the day inevitably comes, Noah is still excited about getting a dog. Again, Mom Z tries a very familiar parenting tactic: They can go look at the shelter, but she makes no promises on whether they’ll actually come home with a dog. Of course, a perfect little black dog with a gentle disposition is waiting for them there. The only problem is that another family has already signed papers to adopt him. A long wait begins to find out whether the little black dog will come to live at the Z house or not. Zanville’s story follows its own rhythm, without a traditional narrative arc or climax. Mama Z and Noah take each step as it comes, and there’s little drama or suspense. Indeed, it’s a lot like the rhythm of real life, and that becomes problematic at times: All good real-life tales need a little editing—a few details left out or elided—to make a good story on the page. As a result, this story’s level of detail makes it drag at points, but Zanville’s sentence structure and word choice—carefully targeted to an early-elementary reading level—help keep things moving along. Stommel and Czekalki’s illustrations perfectly bring big-eyed little Noah and his caring, approachable mom to life and provide just the right amount of humor.
A friendly, quirky book with a slow, steady rhythm all its own.