In this amusing early reader, a young left-handed artist ignores his talented poodle until Pup runs away to join the circus.
The little boy, Tate, wears a black beret and a jaunty, red scarf as he creates pencil sketches of his cats, flowers and insects in his garden, and clowns at the circus. Pup makes desperate bids for Tate’s attention, painting his own fur with tubes of paint, swinging from a tree branch, and juggling balls for the clowns. When Pup follows the clowns and joins the circus, Tate is sad at the loss of his pet. He posts 10 colored-pencil portraits of Pup outside the circus tent, leading to a happy reunion of boy and dog. The story’s clever construction has a brightly colored illustration of Tate busily sketching on one double-page spread followed by a spread displaying Tate’s large, black-and-white drawing that includes 10 similar items in a busy seek-and-find design. The minimal text works well as an early reader, but this clever story will also be a fine choice for preschoolers who are learning to count to 10, and it even teaches a little about different art methods. Lively illustrations in watercolor and ink are filled with tiny details and funny expressions for Tate and Pup and their feline friends. All the human characters, including the clowns, present white.
The combination of a simple but satisfying plot and vibrant art adds up to a story that succeeds on several levels. Yes, we can find Pup! And we’d like to see him (and Tate) again. (Early reader/picture book. 2-8)