Roy Is Not a Dog

Tundra. Apr. 2024. 48p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780735265967.
Gr 2-5–This picture book opens with an intriguing whisper: “Weasel lived on Lilypod Lane, where everyone knew everything about everybody.” Everyone, that is, but the mysterious, homonymous Roy. Weasel, a curious boy with tan skin and windswept black hair, has a best friend named Pam Pam, who has piles of orange hair, pale skin, and eyeglasses. They both want to get to the bottom of Roy’s identity. There are some clues: he has an A-frame abode flanked with hedges in the shape of fire hydrants, ears that flap in the wind, and a keen snout. On the other hand, dapper Roy wears a top hat and can fry an egg. In the end, the question of whether or not Roy is a dog becomes secondary to Roy’s concept of himself, a message of acceptance that resonates. Children will come away with the lesson that they may think they know everything there is to know about those around them, but there is always “so much to discover.” The illustrations are a riot of rich color and rambling vegetation; combine painting techniques, collage, and digital elements; and have a retro feel that echoes 1970s classics. While the small typeface, length, and advanced vocabulary lean toward an older crowd, there is plenty for younger readers to enjoy. To call this a picture book is to call Roy a dog: it is, but it is not, and readers will be charmed.
VERDICT An eccentric conversation about self-identity, recommended for school and public libraries.

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