This Old Dog

An old dog makes a new friend in Martha Brockenbrough (Unpresidented; Love, Santa) and Gabriel Alborozo's adorable, heart-tugging dog-and-his-girl picture book.

The old dog's "bones are sore but his heart is strong," readers learn as the goofily grinning protagonist's tail wags in a bristled blur. Shaggy, long-eared and gray with oversized white polka dots, the venerable canine laments his accelerated pace of life "since the girl was born": his walks are now too quick for him to "hear the leaves" or "find a just-right rock." He wistfully longs for a friend to share his favorite leisurely pursuits. Just when he loses hope, the girl takes her first steps straight to the old dog's side. Soon he finds she loves rocks, smelling grass and rolling down hills as much as he does. He beams beatifically, with closed eyes and wide smile, as she places a haloed leaf on his head, a "crown of gold." Readers leave the inseparable duo romping in a twilight-purple shared dream, the dog prancing like a puppy, tongue flapping and tail waving joyously.

Augmented by digital techniques and lush watercolor washes in a variety of natural tones, Alborozo (The Mouse and the Moon) uses expressive pen-and-ink drawings to capture both the wobbly-kneed walk of a toddler and the buoyant spirit of a dog. Brockenbrough's lilting, subtle text clearly evokes the emotional life of a senior pet whose desire for companionship many children will likely recognize. Who's a good boy? This Old Dog. --Jaclyn Fulwood, youth services manager at main branch, Dayton Metro Library

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