A tiny, gray dog with a loud, annoying bark tries to stop bothering his neighbors.
Emerson is small in size but mighty in vocalization, indicated on the cover and in the illustrations with huge, hand-lettered “barks” and “arfs” integrated into the humorous art. The little dog barks at birds, at the letter carrier, and especially at his next-door neighbors, Miss Cross, a grumpy-looking gray-haired woman in glasses and sandals, and her large cat, Kissy. One morning, Emerson so startles the neighbors with his barking that Kissy runs away. Miss Cross complains to Emerson’s owner, a blonde girl named Eva, so Emerson valiantly tries to hold his barking in. Miss Cross, Eva, and the letter carrier all search for the missing cat, but only Emerson can spot glimpses of Kissy or catch her scent. Finally Emerson can no longer hold back his bark, and his loud sounds lead everyone to Kissy’s hiding place in a clump of bushes, where she has delivered kittens. The story is mildly amusing but predictable, and the unexpected arrival of kittens is both a hackneyed plot device and indicative of an irresponsible pet owner who didn’t have her cat spayed. Eva and Miss Cross are white, a neighbor girl shown in one illustration has fabulously kinky hair, and the letter carrier has brown skin.
While Emerson is an appealing character, Jules Feiffer's Bark, George (1999) remains the clear choice in accounts of caterwauling canines. (Picture book. 3-7)