Foster boy Spike, meanly called a mutt by his peers, heads to D.C. in this story of finding and belonging by Levin (Little Cheese: The Brie that Brought Sunshine to Chicago, 2013, etc.), with occasional illustrations from Mitevska (Too Many Shoes for Tenlei, 2017, etc.).
With text density appropriate to a chapter book, Levin introduces Spike, a pale boy with orange hair and freckles. Everyone calls Spike a mutt, which nice foster mom Mrs. Hope suggests is because “you look like you have a little bit of everyone in you.” Spike still thinks it’s an insult—until the new president says he wants a family dog who is a mutt, just like him. Spike takes a bus to Washington, D.C., to apply for the position of first dog, and though he gets a happy ending (he becomes a member of the first family), his aspirations never climb higher than being a pet. The tale touches on homelessness and problems of the foster care system, but the cheeky star never gives them much thought. Mitevska’s design for Spike doesn’t reflect his mixed heritage, but the contrast between him and the African-American first family shows the appeal of crossing bridges to make a family, and Levin depicts Spike’s brave adventure in an approachable vocabulary for strong independent readers.
Kids are sure to ask questions about the plot holes, but others will enjoy the happy ending.