Happy first day of winter!
This morning I’m pleased to share my review of Barkus (Chronicle, 2017) by Patricia Maclachlan and illustrated by Marc Boutavant. Intended for kids ages 6 to 9, Barkus is a fun book that tells the story of Nicky’s greatest gift ever: Barkus.
Barkus comes into Nicky’s life when her Uncle Everton brings the dog to her because he’s going on a world-wide trip. Nicky and Barkus go on several adventures together. Barkus even helps the students in Nicky’s class learn to read! Barkus returns one day with a kitten, who becomes known as Baby. Nicky, Barkus, and Baby become quick friends and even go on a camping trip in the book’s final scenes.
Barkus is a simple story of a dog who comes and stays. The Author’s Note reveals that Barkus is based on Maclachlan’s neighbor’s dog. What the books lacks in originality it makes up for in vibrant illustrations and a charming story about a girl who learns that her story is the best story.
Here’s what I like about the book:
(1) It captures wonderfully the excitement of a new pet. I still remember when my family adopted our English Spring Spaniel Brownie, and Barkus lets readers live the glorious moment of getting a dog with Nicky. It also reminds us of what we let our beloved pets get away with! Brownie once ate an entire submarine sandwich from my favorite hometown sub shop!
(2) The book’s energy. There is a certain energy to the book that moves the story forward. This narrative momentum is complemented with Boutavant’s vibrant illustrations.
(3) The storytelling scene. When Nicky is camping in her backyard with Barkus and Kitty, she learns that her story, the story of how she came to be with Barkus and Kitty is the story others want to hear. Inspired by a real life pup, Barkus is an example of writing what we know.