A charming interaction at an animal shelter leads to the adoption of a pet that’s better than a dog.
Agee’s (The Wall in the Middle of the Book, 2018) newest work opens on the softly picturesque business district of Happyvale. A small girl with brown skin and puffy black hair in a ponytail visits the animal shelter to ask for a dog, wagon in tow. But apparently they have every other animal except a dog, and the tall, white man who runs it tries to get her to take every single one. Their banter is absolutely delightful. As he tries to persuade the girl to take a baboon, a frog, even a goldfish (“It…knows how to play dead, just like a dog,” he says; “Mister, that goldfish is not playing dead”), the kid remains steadfast. Beginning readers will love the child’s firm reiteration of priorities: “That’s okay. I do not want a goldfish. I want a dog.” Exasperation hilariously clear in her body language, the girl wonders whether the man knows what a dog is, then finally changes her approach: “Do you even have a dog?” As the man confesses that he does not have the desired pet, he does bring her one last animal—which really ends up being better than a dog! Amazingly, the girl’s parents (who both present black) seem to agree.
This entertaining, engaging read makes the most impossible pets seem…well, possible. (Picture book. 3-6)