A charismatic golden retriever narrates this earnest story about finding a toddler who wanders away into the woods.
The unnamed dog is newly qualified as a search-and-rescue dog, along with his female handler. As the story opens, the dog is tracking the missing child by sniffing objects and locations where the boy has been. The child is shown in the dog’s thought bubbles engaging in the activities that led to the various scents. At first, the dog just describes the boy’s activities, but as darkness falls, the dog urges the child to find a tree to hug and stay in one place till the dog can find him. The story’s text flows in poetic fashion, with evocative descriptions such as “squishy snail-slime mud” and “silvery singsong bell” and lyrical, reassuring phrases from the compassionate rescue dog. Despite the potentially scary subject of being lost in the woods at night, the story’s tone projects a sense of brave leadership from the dog, resourcefulness from the child and cozy security when the little boy is returned to his parents. Both dog and boy are endearing in the charming watercolor-and-pencil illustrations.
A sensible safety lesson and a satisfying story. (afterword) (Picture book. 3-8)