Bad Dog

Doubleday. Nov. 2019. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781984847973.
PreS-Gr 2–A young girl desperately wants a dog for her birthday, so when she unwraps a large polka-dot package and pulls out a four-legged creature with fur, pointy ears, and a cute nose, she knows it’s a “dog” and names it Rocky. Readers clearly see that she has received a cat. The feline gives her new owner an eye roll for her foolishness and is clearly is not amused by her owner’s silly expectations. She refuses to learn any doggy tricks. What respectable cat would come when called, like to take walks, and enjoy baths?! The young girl concludes, repeatedly, that Rocky is a “bad dog” because of her failures, and the book’s humor thrives in the disconnect between the girl’s expectations and the cat’s behavior. Children will also love the contrast between the facial expressions of the girl and the cat and will enjoy watching the antics of both. Eventually, the girl notices that Rocky doesn’t bark, chew toys, or have accidents, and concludes that Rocky would make a pretty good cat. Boldt’s illustrations are large in scale and wonderfully expressive.
VERDICT This clever story celebrates the differences between cats and dogs and the owners who love them.

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