A white child in a dress and a bow lectures readers about how to pick the perfect dog.
Portraits of different breeds of adorable dogs are the first (and last) things readers encounter in this ode to canines. The story begins as the young narrator tells readers that the family is about to get a dog, and of course, it should be perfect. Thus begins a pattern—“The perfect dog should be big... / bigger... // biggest! / Maybe not this big”—that continues throughout the book, substituting different adjectives and dog breeds to illustrate them: in this case, a chow chow, a German shepherd, a Saint Bernard, and a Great Dane, respectively. Use of various typefaces and fonts will help readers grasp the meanings of the adjectives and adds dramatic flair. Along with the varying dog breeds, the changes in adjectives are accompanied by changes in the narrator’s outfits. Playful chaos ensues in many spreads, adding humor to the general charm of the pooches. A page turn between the three escalating adjectives and the follow-up “maybe not” sentence would have added playful anticipation, but the pacing still generally works. By limiting backgrounds to two colors, O’Malley keeps the focus on the characters—and boy, are they full of character. The dogs are the true stars of this book, each with an immediately evident personality, though they’re all lovable. Sweetly, the perfect dog turns out to be the one who chooses the narrator.
While this book doesn’t do anything new, it’s a shoo-in for lovers of dogs and humor: funny and charming. (Picture book. 3-6)