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by Jonathan London & illustrated by Renee Williams-Andriani

Age Range: 4 - 7

Pub Date: July 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-525-46114-0
Publisher: Dutton

A lively easy reader in which the author takes a page from Letterman’s stupid pet tricks and the illustrator captures the hilarity. Shawn has four whole days before show-and-tell to teach a few tricks to Keeper, his red retriever-like shaggy dog. Why not give it a try? After all, the two are the best of friends, the kind of friends who “walked together and talked together” and “growled together and howled together.” Training ensues, with Shawn growing from hesitant to well nigh dictatorial and Keeper's confusion melting into a satisfied grin in Williams-Andriani’s squiggly inset illustrations. Shawn always says, “Good boy!” and gives Keeper cookies. Then comes Friday, pet-trick presentation day. After “Leah sang to her mouse” (not exactly a pet trick), and some other performances, it’s Shawn and Keeper’s turn, and the dog blows it, forgetting everything except “Fetch!” His happy chase after the spotted ball decimates the classroom in a series of vignettes that culminate in full-scale disaster. The background damage is depicted in gentle pastels, enabling the reader’s attention to remain on Shawn and Keeper. Careful observation reveals, however, that the fish in the upset tank are horrified, as is the mouse. It’s obvious Shawn must change his training tactics, and he does. “ ‘Bad boy!’ ” he says. “ ‘But I still love you.’ And he gave Keeper a cookie.” After all, “they were the best of friends.” (Fiction. 4-7)