Good Boy

illus. by Sergio Ruzzier. 40p. S. & S./Atheneum. Feb. 2019. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781481499064.
RedReviewStarPreS-Gr 1—A boy and his dog take an unexpected journey in this picture book for early readers. The simple narrative begins with a light-skinned, blond-haired boy and his similarly golden-haired dog scampering across plenty of white space. The boy's commands for the dog appear in large, black text: "Sit. Stay. Roll over." The dog's skills are more advanced than one would expect, however, as the next spread sees him "Stand. Shake. Bow." From there, it becomes clear that this canine has more in common with Gromit than with the average house pet. While he can certainly "Fetch" and "Jump," he can also "Juggle," "Cook. Serve," and "Clean." After sharing a meal, the two friends venture outdoors into a strikingly colorful landscape, taking a bike, a boat, and eventually a rocket ship on a brief, out-of-this world trip. The day ends with the dog tucking in his boy with a story, a song, and after the boy's request to "Stay," a snuggle. Ruzzier's distinctive cartoon-style, ink and watercolor illustrations propel most of the story, offering plenty of visual interest and cues for pre-readers to decode the limited text. The boy, with his drooping socks, and his belly occasionally protruding from under his T-shirt, is realistically childlike and charming.
VERDICT A simple yet surprising friendship story, perfect for preschool audiences and for those just beginning to read. A first purchase.

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