The untrained, exuberant dog and his patient child owner from I Will Love You Anyway (2016) are back, this time exploring the meaning of a name.
The puglike dog with the huge eyes, sweat bands, and tendency to run away has earned a ribbon from his dog obedience class. The pup now responds appropriately to “Fetch,” “Sit,” and “Stay” and knows “Ball,” “Walk,” “Park,” and “Bed.” But the meaning of the word “Fred” eludes him, the adorable tilt of his head conveying his confusion. Eager to please, the dog just wants to know how to “Fred” so he’ll earn a “Good Boy!” Maybe the dog upstairs (his reflection in a mirror) knows? What about the dog he spies in the water while chasing ducks in the park? Trying to play with that pup leads him to trouble. Luckily, his child comes to his rescue, snuggling the dog close and whispering his name. “A light goes on inside my head!” Fred’s his name, and he can now Fred with the best of them. A cozy ending celebrates the love between dog and child. While Mick Inkpen’s rhymes sometime belabor the point and nearly overstay their welcome, Chloë Inkpen’s illustrations against white backgrounds give readers a view from the dog’s perspective, and his expressions and body language convey much. Fred’s child, the only human in the book, presents white.
Fred has certainly matured since his first outing. Readers may have mixed feelings about a third, though. (Picture book. 4-7)