What to do when you’re afraid of dogs?
Every day after school Hannah’s papa meets her at the bus stop. Her friend and neighbor, Violet P., is welcomed by her mom and dog, Sugar. The other kids greet the pooch with a friendly pat, but Hannah, perhaps a kindergartner, steadfastly refuses, glancing at Sugar warily. One day, Violet reports that Sugar’s missing; a neighborhood search fails to uncover her. On a starry night, as Hannah sits outside pondering what being lost feels like, she hears a whimper and investigates. Surprise! It’s Sugar, her leash entangled on a bush. Stifling her instincts to flee, Hannah musters her courage and reaches out a comforting—and rescuing—hand. Sugar, who’s heretofore noticed this timid girl sympathetically, gratefully nuzzles her. This is a sweet tale with a satisfying ending; expressive, childlike paint-and-ink illustrations drive the story well. Though all the human principals are white (or very light-skinned), there is a black family in the neighborhood. Dog lovers will cheer that Hannah has joined their ranks; dog-fearing children may feel emboldened, though it’s unlikely that they’d come to an animal’s aid without first seeking adult help—and arguably they shouldn’t, an important point the story doesn’t make. Another missing point of logic involves the apparent close proximity of Sugar to Hannah’s house: how did no one hear the crying dog sooner?
A dog-positive story with a misstep or two. (Picture book. 3-6)