Australian author Lois Nicholls (Bye-bye Bikini, 2018, etc.) and illustrator Lara Nicholls (Aussie, Actually, 2012), a mother-daughter team, celebrate lovable canines in rhyme in their picture book.
Tarna, a golden retriever, pals around with her human friend until he realizes that the dog’s gotten “quite smelly”—possibly from being in the paddock past the pond. Kane, a Great Dane, is “Not a pony...that’s BALONEY!” In nine rhyming poems with full-color paintings, the Nichollses introduce readers to a range of different dogs. The pups are of varied breeds, including apparent daisy-dog mutts and a goldendoodle (aka a groodle) as well as a more common Jack Russell terrier and a beagle. They all have diverse personalities and expressions: French bulldog Philippe loves cafes and “bling”; beagle Bonny is an adventurous traveler. The paintings are realistic and endearing, and each features a tiny bee for hidden-object searchers. The poems have intriguingly offbeat rhyme schemes; they may require practice for proper emphasis when read aloud. Some words are italicized, boldfaced, or capitalized, a distracting device that may confuse some newly independent readers. Vocabulary terms such as “torte” are defined in footnotes while other potentially unfamiliar words, such as the aforementioned “paddock,” are left unexplained.
The book’s charming paintings will draw in animal lovers, and the poems’ catchy, irregular rhythms will encourage recitation.