In a city populated entirely by dogs of all breeds—pups are in collars, but all adult dogs are in human clothes—one youngster who must have some beagle in him has an adventure when he wanders away from his mother and his two friends at a department store.
The whimsical, cartoonish dogs bustle around one another against a detailed urban environment rendered in ink and colorful watercolor. It’s an enjoyable romp, with simple, well-paced text. Before Rusty’s group of canines enters the department store—adorned with plaster bone-and-heart motifs over the doors—Mother reminds her charges of a safety rule. “ ‘It’s very busy inside,’ she says. ‘So what do we do?’ ‘We all stay together!’ chant Rusty, Henrietta, and Toby.” Rusty’s nose, however, soon lures him to the fourth floor, where a lady dog in an apron is demonstrating a dog-biscuit machine for “picky guests and hungry pups.” Rusty realizes he is lost at the same time that he overhears two watchdogs, with fierce-looking uniforms and menacing equipment, discussing their plan to catch stray pups and literally impound them. After fleeing through a marvelous labyrinth of ventilation pipes, Rusty hides in various departments—in plain view to astute readers—until a salesperson observes, “I’m sure we don’t have a lamp in our collection with hairy feet.”
The skillful blend of human and canine characteristics in this romp will make for many a chuckle. (Picture book. 3-7)