A perky Australian labradoodle narrates this sports-themed tale describing the dog’s interest in playing soccer and football with a group of neighborhood children.
The story is written by a long-term ESPN host and his wife, using their own dog and family as models for the main characters. The dog, Phoebe, has fluffy, white fur and an unusual, bright pink tail. She considers herself an integral part of the human family, referring to family members as Mom, Dad, sister, and brother. (The family has light skin, and the young daughter wears red glasses.) At the neighborhood playground Phoebe wants to join in the day’s informal pickup games of soccer and football with a group of children, including her “sister.” The dog knows the basic rules of the games from watching her owner on his sports show on TV, so she jumps right in and plays, scoring goals and touchdowns (of sorts). Phoebe helps the little girl feel better when she falls down, and a happy conclusion ensues with kids and dog tired after their afternoon playing outside. While the story is a little forced, positive attributes include a female dog and a female main character (a rare and welcome pairing), a group of kids of different ethnicities playing unorganized ball games outdoors without adults directing the action, and a plot with a dog enjoying a taste of two popular sports. Bold digitally produced illustrations use a variety of perspectives and lots of motion, with speech balloons and sound effects providing additional interest.
Phoebe and her best friend score a touchdown with this groundbreaking pairing of a sports-minded girl and her dog. (Picture book. 4-8)