A simple, old-fashioned story about a puppy adjusting to life on a family farm is complemented by sweetly nostalgic watercolor illustrations from Caldecott Medalist McCully.
The unnamed male beagle puppy wants a job on the farm like the other, more mature animals. He tries to crow like the rooster, push the farm wagon like the ox and chase mice like the barn cat. He realizes that he can’t lay eggs like the hens or carry people like the horse. A female farmhand (who looks rather like a clown in costume, minus white greasepaint) tells the puppy he can’t make milk because he is a male. At last, the puppy hears a familiar whistle as his young owner arrives home from school. For the rest of the day, the boy and the puppy play together, until the boy’s mother tucks her son and his dog into bed together; then, she describes the puppy’s contribution as love for the family. The short text, simple plot and amusing illustrations make this a fine choice for preschoolers who are just transitioning into real stories.
The earnest puppy doesn’t chart any new territory, but cute little ones who want to be helpful like the big guys have a natural and enduring appeal to the preschool set. (Picture book. 3-7)