Billie and Bean in the City

Orca. (Billie and Bean). May 2023. 32p. Tr $21.95. ISBN 9781459834446.
Gr 1-3–Kids of all ages know the allure of having a pet. And most of them can anticipate the question parents ask before bringing a pet home: “Are you going to take care of it?” In this delightful story, Billie is responsible for her dog Bean while Mom is out doing laundry. Their apartment and the street scenes around the block are full of sunlight and bright colors; clothing, scoops of ice cream, even the paint on the buildings create a warm setting for their first walk on their own. But after a detour in the park, complete with picking flowers and an encounter with an angry swan, they exit onto a different street and things are suddenly much darker. The people they pass seem shadowy, and even the buildings loom threateningly over Billie and Bean. Readers will be eagerly turning the pages to see if these lovable companions find their way home. Spare text frames the action, while the illustrations offer incredible details to draw the eye. Flowers for sale at a shop include dog roses and catnip, street signs read “Paw Alley” and “Growl Hill,” and figures on a crosswalk sign look remarkably like Billie and Bean.
VERDICT Youngsters will delight in this tale of responsibility and self-reliance, built with just the right amount of suspense.

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