Spunky is happy with his life as it is. He was adopted from an animal shelter by a great family. He is devoted to brothers Julian and Huey Bates, sleeps in Huey's Blanket Cave every night, and has all the Nibbles he wants. Sometimes Spunky is frustrated that his family does not understand his speech--everything he says sounds like "yerf" to them--but he takes it in stride. And things that make perfect sense to the deep-thinking pooch, such as breaking a pencil in order to make at least two pencils out of one, only get him in trouble. After a series of such "misunderstandings," the family meets to discuss the situation. "'Too many Nibbles are his problem,' Michelle said. 'They make him pigheaded.' My handsome head was reflected in my water bowl. How could Michelle get such a silly idea? 'I don't look at all like a pig. I am not a pig. I am a Dog, the best possible thing to be!' I told her. 'Yerf! There he goes, getting all worked up again,' Ralph said."
The humans come up with a "solution" to the problem--Spunky needs another pet to keep him company, but not a dog. Over the frantic canine's misunderstood objections, Julian suggests getting a cat. And so, it's off to the animal shelter to find the perfect feline companion for the hapless Spunky. To make matters worse: "I tried to reason with them. I tried to warn them. 'You don't want that one. Not her. Never take home a cat that smells of Foolish.' They ignored me...Me and the Bates family. Together, yet we can't speak the same language. It's a tragedy." Half an hour later, a white purebred Balinese cat is named Fiona and becomes the newest member of the Bates household.
Kids will love reading about Spunky and the Bates family as the philosophical canine adjusts to life with a cat in the house. Author Ann Cameron does a marvelous job of looking at the world through a dog's eyes (and ears and nose). She makes animal behaviors appear so rational, readers may never again wonder why the family pooch is enamored of a pair of smelly socks or Kitty does as she pleases when she pleases. Lauren Castillo's expressive black-and-white illustrations bring Spunky and Fiona to life. This imaginative companion to the author's tales about Julian and Huey is as charming as the earlier stories.
112 pages 978-0374380007 Ages 8-11
Reviewed by: Basya Karp, Librarian, New York, USA