A child grows to love a new canine companion in this initial offering in a new series of early chapter books by Newbery Medalist MacLachlan.
Protagonist Nicky narrates the story, which is divided into five brief chapters with short sentences set in large type. Nicky’s new pet, Barkus, is a large, brown dog who seems friendly, smart, and well-behaved. In short, episodic chapters, Barkus joins Nicky at school, celebrates his birthday with some canine pals, and finds a pet kitten as his special companion. In the final chapter, Nicky, Barkus, and the kitten spend the night in a backyard tent, with Nicky conquering a longstanding fear of the dark. Nicky tells the dog and kitten a bedtime story, which effectively summarizes the entire book in an amusing way. Nicky and Nicky's parents are white, the teacher has tan skin, and Nicky’s classmates are a multiethnic group. Cheery illustrations with a perky, 1960s vibe feature polka-dot patterns on the cover and endpapers and depict characters with buggy, cartoon-style eyes. Illustrations on almost every page include a variety of format sizes from small vignettes to full pages, alternating between white and brightly colored backgrounds.
Nicky, Barkus, and Baby the kitten will appeal to fans of the Henry and Mudge series as well as to the younger picture-book audience. (Early reader. 4-7)