Shankle, best known for her devotional titles for adults, pivots to picture books.
Based on the author’s own dogs, Piper and Mabel are “two very wild but very good dogs” who love each other and their humans. When the family begins discussing a trip to the beach, Piper and Mabel eagerly look forward to joining in the family vacation only to discover that they will not be going to the shore. Piper and Mabel are off to Happy Tails Ranch, whose appealing brochure summons visions of spa-like farm fun for the canine companions, even if going with the family would be their first choice. The actual ranch is underwhelming and even scary for the pooches; the food isn’t great, they are forced to take baths, and there are no facials to be found, so they decide to make a break for it. Though lost for a time, they sniff their way to safety and back to their family, where they wanted to be all along. It’s cute and satisfying, but this ground’s been trod many times before. Watkins’ soft edges and pastel hues lend a cozy yet energetic aesthetic, reassuring readers that even when Piper and Mabel are lost, all will turn out right in the end. Piper and Mabel’s humans appear to be white, though readers never get a good view, as the illustrations focus on the protagonist canines, who are mostly black but whose breed is not readily apparent.
Family-friendly dog stories will always find eager audiences, although this kibble’s a bit stale. (Picture book. 4-8)