A small boy loses his dog—and readers help him find it.
Doug, a black-haired Asian child, sits forlornly on a park bench, an empty leash hanging limply from his hands. A few dogs frolic nearby; one wallows in mud. The narrator sympathizes, then invites readers to help Doug out and poses the first of several questions, in boldfaced type: “What does your dog look like, Doug?” This evokes the answer “scruffy,” rendered in fuzzy, dark type. On subsequent pages, questions to Doug, his responses, and successive instructions to readers are all boldfaced. All these highlight new vocabulary and act as identifiers so children may distinguish from an array of depicted dogs, as in the directive to “Call ‘Here Scruff!’ to all the scruffy dogs.” Will children take this bait? Of course, and on the following spread, the scruffy dogs come running. And so it proceeds. The narrator asks questions, and Doug responds—but only in speech balloons, offstage. After the opening spreads, the story isn’t so much about Doug as about children’s following irresistible instructions—patting, tickling, kissing dogs!—while exercising visual acuity and honing vocabulary and sentence-meaning skills. A final instruction delivers a surprise, a joyous reunion, and the narrator’s gratitude. An empathic, easy-to-understand situation and sturdy pages make this a good choice for the very young, and the rollicking watercolor, pencil, and digital-media illustrations will provide plenty of entertainment at sharing time.
Lively interactive fun. (Picture book. 2-5)