A young girl finds an imaginative way to satisfy her desire for a pet dog despite her parents’ objections.
Lula Mae lives on a farm with her family. She wants a puppy, but her mother points out “Dog’s just another mouth to feed. These are hard times, Lula Mae.” Her mother’s admonition, repeated by her baby brother, to “make do” inspires her to consider adopting one of the family’s chickens as her canine companion. So she clips a big red bow onto the comb of a spunky, black-and-white spotted chicken that she christens Pookie and commences to crow about her talents. Lula Mae’s parents are unimpressed by Pookie’s performance as a show dog, sheepdog, and guard dog, but the whole family appreciates her efforts at search and rescue when Baby Berry goes missing. Debut author Montanari’s text has an engagingly twangy conversational tone though some may find the family’s irregular, down-home grammar more annoying than endearing. Wilsdorf’s cheerful ink-and-watercolor art focuses on the fun in energetic single-page, double-page, and spot illustrations balanced by plenty of white space. Her depiction of the unflappable Lula Mae, a smiling round-headed white tot, is pleasingly reminiscent of the work of William Steig.
While pet tales abound, this lively look at making the best of a bad situation highlights humor and encourages creativity, enriching the somewhat predictable plot. (Picture book. 3-6)