Bound To Stay Bound

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Booklist - 07/01/2014 It’s an oft-made joke: Who is the person in this relationship and who is the pet? Stein makes amusing, adorable hay from the idea of an independent doggie who doesn’t need a person—well, not at first. Nobody owns me, crows the confident canine. I own myself. Indeed, he rolls over when he wants to, throws his own stick to fetch, and greets himself in a mirror each day, saying, I AM A GOOD DOG. There’s this itch on his back, though, that he can’t quite reach, and so one day he lets a man scratch it. After the man follows the dog home, the dog goes ahead and gets a leash: How else am I supposed to lead him around? He then teaches the guy how to find squirrels, how to play the stick game, and more. Stein’s pen, marker, and watercolor figures are endearingly slapdash and exude warmth; when the dog says, I’ve grown attached to the little fella, the duo’s affection for each other is palpable. A fitting celebration of opinionated pups everywhere. - Copyright 2014 Booklist.

Bulletin for the Center... - 09/01/2014 Our canine protagonist leads a happily independent life, throwing his own sticks and curling up at his own feet at the end of a long day. After he lets a human scratch him in a hard-to-reach itchy spot, though, a bond forms (“The little guy followed me home. I felt sorry for him”). Now he has a delightful new pet, who’s quickly learned the stick game and who’s worth the trouble he causes-in fact, says the dog confidentially, “between you and me, I’m his best friend.” The popular viewpoint-reversal gag is particularly amusing here, with some excellent silliness in the dog’s solitary habits (“When I look in the mirror, I lick my own face because I am so happy to see me”) and some genuine and funny legitimacy in the dog’s take on the situation. A fascinating illustrative note explains the artwork, including the fact that a marker was “hacked” to dispense India ink; the result is a particularly childlike iteration of Stein’s familiar vigor, with big scrawled lines colored with cheerfully slapdash washes in sunny and verdant outdoor hues. The round-headed, gray-spotted pup is aggressively cute, with a bit of bulldoggish fang showing at times, while the human he adopts is a wonderfully hapless grownup man with a stuck-in-the-’70s vibe. Kids may rightly ask where the pooch got his collar and tag (and house), but it’s not too surprising for such a canine go-getter, and such trivialities don’t matter in the face of such an enjoyable and deftly crafted joke. DS - Copyright 2014 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.

School Library Journal - 10/01/2014 PreS-Gr 2—The typical pet picture book is turned on its ear in this witty and charming story. This independent pooch proudly takes care of himself: "I curl up at my own feet. Sometimes, if I'm not comfortable, I tell myself to roll over." He scoffs at the pets who follow commands and demonstrates how he throws and fetches his own stick, "it's fun." His life is pretty perfect…except for the itch on his back that he just can't reach. When a friendly person scratches the itch for him, then follows him home, the little canine can't help but adopt him. Young readers will get a kick out of the reversed human-pet roles, which are cheerfully and animatedly illustrated in pen and "hacked" kids' marker and colored with watercolor and crayon. The cartoonlike drawings perfectly illuminate the life and attitudes of this canine character, from his contented chewing on a slipper to his joyful, bowlegged run during a game of fetch. Minimal text makes this a great read-aloud for listeners with short attention spans, while the humor will tickle older kids and grown-ups.—Marian McLeod, Convent of the Sacred Heart, Greenwich, CT - Copyright 2014 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.

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