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Mutt Dog (Mutt Dog)
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Short-listed for the 2005 CBCA Book of the Year: Early Childhood and Picture Book of the Year.

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PreS-Gr 2-Every night a little stray searches for a new place to sleep, until one evening he follows a bag lady to a shelter and befriends one of the workers. The woman takes him home and now "he knows where he belongs." Although not a particularly original theme, the presentation is well done, and the gentle pen-and-ink and watercolor cartoons tell the story beautifully. Mutt Dog is a scruffy-looking creature, and on one delightful spread he is pictured in many humorous poses as the family tries to find a name for him. Compassion shines through in the illustrations, which include several appearances in the background of homeless people walking on the street in the rain and going through trash. The book's oversize format and clear wash illustrations on white backgrounds make this a good choice for storytimes.-Judith Constantinides, formerly at East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, LA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Homeless but not helpless, a two-toned, scruffy dog lives his life on the streets of a big city. Nameless for most of the book, this self-reliant canine "had to be brave, and fast, and smart... just to survive." Vignettes show the cute brown-and-white pooch scrounging through garbage cans, barking to scare off dive-bombing birds and making a getaway with a loaf of French bread. Australian author King (The Man Who Loved Boxes) also does not shy away from illustrating people without roofs over their heads (e.g., a spread portrays the wandering mutt encountering a child and her grandfather bundled beneath a shadowy stairwell, others sleep on park benches or in cardboard boxes). Braving a blustery night, the dog follows an elderly bag lady into a shelter, where he meets a kind worker who will later give him a home. King's ink-and-watercolor illustrations maintain a lighter tone with their cartoonish look, even as they depict a hardscrabble side of life. Once adopted, Mutt Dog, as he's later called, basks and thrives in his new surroundings. This gentle yet realistic introduction to the topic of homelessness-via an endearing, shaggy dog-will get readers of all ages thinking. And while the subject may be disconcerting, the message is reassuring: that there is a place for everyone. Ages 3-7. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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