cover image Best in Show

Best in Show

David Elliott, illus. by Cátia Chien et al. Clarion, $19.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-332192-2

This verse survey of different dog breeds draws its energy from spirited language by Elliott (Color the Sky) and friendly dog portraits by 18 artists. Covering breeds ranging from Afghan Hound to Xoloitzcuintli, each spread features a poem, an illustration, and prose text with more information, including little-known and surprising trivia. Kicking off, a hymn of praise to the Labrador retriever (“You hunt. You fish./ You search and find”) accompanies vignettes by Ebony Glenn. Charles Santoso contributes a bulldog family portrait (“Head like a melon”). And Cátia Chien portrays a poodle (“An athlete!/ A surprise!/ A tough guy in disguise!”) lifting a ship filled with other dogs, while text describes the way poodles’ classic haircut warms their joints and vital organs when they retrieve hunters’ ducks from cold water. It’s not all fancy breeds, either: Oge Mora’s collage portrait of a proud mutt accompanies more about the “Everydog.” Though a handful of lines feel outmoded (“In spite of their roly-poly physiques, Bulldogs can be quite athletic”), a bouquet of art styles and media, fast-moving verse, and entertaining facts provide varied entryways into this amiable accounting. Ages 4–8. Agent: Kelly Sonnack, Andrea Brown Literary. (Aug.)