by Jan Thomas
Harcourt Books, September 2008
review copy provided by the publisher
Jan Thomas is my new favorite picture book author based on just two books: I loveloveloved A Birthday for Cow (reviewed here in June). And now Cow, Pig, Duck and Mouse are back with a scary story just right for the season, The Doghouse. (In addition, What Will Fat Cat Sit On? made Katie's 5 Books (New Ones) Every Primary Library Should Have list and I'm pretty sure I will own it, love it, and add it to my own list by the end of this weekend. In addition, I see that Jan Thomas has a new book coming out in 2009. I'm thinking pre-order thoughts.)
The story in The Doghouse begins on the endpapers with Cow, Pig, Duck and Mouse playing with a big red ball. Cow makes a great kick that is headed right for (insert scary music as the pages turn past the title page to the first page of text) the doghouse, which suddenly has a dark sky, a bat across the full moon, thunder and lightning, and skeletal trees around it. First the animals send big, brave, strong Cow in to get the ball. Cow does not come back. (More bats across the moon, and three pairs of wide, frightened eyes left.) Next Pig goes in. Does not come back. Then Duck. Does not come back. Mouse begs Duck to come back, but the scary face of the Dog appears and tells Mouse, "I am having Duck for dinner." After a page of sheer Mouse terror...
...Dog turns back to his dinner guests seated at the table and says with regret in his eyes and voice, "Too mad Mouse couldn't come, too."
But isn't that Mouse peeking in the window? Sure enough, he joins the group for cake in the final endpapers.
Be sure you look for a cameo appearance by the big red ball in the final pages.