In this debut picture book, a dog in an animal shelter learns about loyalty.
Booger (don’t laugh at his name) Coffman is a young canine, perhaps a Chihuahua, who began life outdoors with his mother and siblings. Things turned rough after he was weaned and he and his mother—his siblings were, mysteriously, taken away in a car—had to scrounge for food. One day, a truck transports Booger to a scary place with cages and noise. He misses his mother; the food smells bad; and he’s sprayed with cold water. But then a little old woman points out the lonely dog to Mike, who kisses him on the head and loves him instantly. Booger, delighted at being chosen, declares: “I will love you and kiss you and...be loyal to you! That’s it! Loyalty! To be a true friend, best buddy or a great companion.” Although Coffman intends to explore the concept of loyalty in this first installment of a series, that characteristic is hard to distinguish from gratitude. That’s especially so since the story ends on the first day of Booger’s friendship with Mike, leaving no time for development—just a heartfelt resolution. It’s also confusing that Bella, mentioned in the title, has no place in the tale. The uncredited dog photographs (plus one illustration), against a pastel watercolor background, are engaging and thankfully don’t depict Booger’s privations.
Fails to live up to its title, but canine lovers should appreciate the happy ending.