cover image NO DOGS ALLOWED!


Sonia Manzano, , illus. by Jon J Muth. . S&S/Atheneum, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-689-83088-4

Manzano, who has played Maria on Sesame Street for more than 20 years, makes her picture debut with a tale bursting with color, energy and a bit of Hispanic flair. Seven-year-old Iris recalls the day "a long while ago, when I was six" when she and her family, including her beloved pooch, El Exigente, picnicked at Enchanted State Park. Assorted relatives, friends and neighbors form a caravan of vehicles stuffed with food and a wild collection of favorite objects. After a bout of car trouble and an unexpected detour, the clan finally arrives at the lake, only to be greeted by a sign reading "No Dogs Allowed." Papi's sensible solution—"We should take turns staying with El Exigente in the parking lot until we figure out what to do"—means that the sweet-natured pup enjoys a dog's life of attention for the rest of the day. As Manzano orchestrates a variety of distinct character voices into one joyful symphony, Muth (The Three Questions ) uses the fluid lines of his often witty ink-and- watercolor compositions to fill in all the details of Iris's memorable family: cook-extraordinaire Mami and her pots of picnic fare, Cousin Carmen the Beautiful and her "traveling beauty parlor," and Aunt Tuta the Happily Married and her Brand-new Husband, constantly entwined in a dreamy-eyed embrace. This boisterous family's summer outing makes an exuberant statement about the ties that bind—both human and canine. Ages 3-7. (Apr.)