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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Barkus, written by Patricia MacLachlan and illustrated by Marc Boutavant. Chronicle, Raincoast. 2017. $20.99 ages 6 and up

"It was Monday morning.
I put on my sweater and coat
and boots.
Barkus watched me.
I put on my gloves.
Barkus watched me.
"Goodbye, Barkus. I'll see
you after school." I patted
him on the head."

Patricia MacLachlan has the same love for animal tales as do her many fans. In this early chapter book, she tells the story of a very big brown dog. Barkus is dropped with Nicky and her family when his owner, Uncle Everton, heads off to travel the world. Nicky has many questions. In the end, she decides that she will be Barkus' new owner.

The second chapter proves that ownership comes with a bit of a problem. Barkus does not like to be left alone while Nicky goes to school. Her teacher seems to like him, and agrees that Barkus can stay and be the classroom pet. One problem solved. In the third chapter, Barkus' birthday party is celebrated in a quiet way as Nicky's mother had hoped. 

"He got a ball.
He got a tug toy.
Barkus rolled the ball.
Barkus chewed the tug toy.
But he looked sad.
He stood in the window and looked out into
the darkness. He looked out for a long time."
Clearly, there is something wrong. The family soon learns they are not the only ones who know it is Barkus' birthday! The final chapters concern another new pet, and an overnight tenting excursion which results in Nicky offering choice in bedtime stories that Barkus does not like. She ends up telling a brand new story ... one that Barkus can really appreciate.

This is a strong story, with a promise for another adventure in 2018.

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