A puppy imagines what her life would be like if she could climb trees in this fifth installment of the Nuggies series by Minich and Garcia (Oui Oui, Gigi, 2016, etc.).
Coco, a Nuggie (or a puppy who never grows up), daydreams about a perfect day: “If I could go anywhere… / If I could do anything… / Where would I go? / What would I see?” Putting her paws against the bark of a tree, she begins to visualize what it would be like to climb trees and have a bird’s-eye view of the world. Coco’s dream tree is a magical one; from it, she can see the ocean crashing onto the beach, snow falling in the mountains, and a vast nighttime enveloping the cityscape. Coco also considers what she’d eat if she were like the bugs living in the tree. Garcia cleverly draws the little, big-eared brown dog in caterpillar form, chewing leaves; then as a lady bug drinking raindrops; and finally as an ant eating honey. In each image, Coco remains recognizable, despite becoming an insect. Next, Coco imagines playing like a squirrel, and Garcia combines Coco’s canine features with a rodent form, showing her leaping among the branches with a bushy tail. As night falls in Coco’s reverie, she wonders how the other animals might envision her life: the bugs getting comfy on human furniture; the bird’s wings changing to paws so she can bury a bone; and the squirrel gaining a dog’s sense of smell. Coco’s idyll concludes as she ponders the power of dreams to make you “any kind of you that you ever want to be!” Garcia’s illustrations are almost huggable in their cuteness, and Coco’s friend Chomper from earlier series installments makes a subtle appearance in two of the images. Because the story is from Coco’s point of view, her name is never given in the tale; only readers familiar with earlier books will know who she is, but newcomers should have no trouble connecting with her. Minich’s text sometimes rhymes and sometimes doesn’t, which feels uneven, though the concepts and vocabulary are quite approachable for both lap and newly independent picture-book readers.
A sweet, sometimes-rhyming musing on the nature of daydreams from an adorable canine.