Book Cover

Riddles give hints about a dog’s life in an idyllic garden.

The lessons begin on the first page with unnecessary instruction on how to use the book. Romeo is an anthropomorphic orange mutt with a white snout, expressive green eyes, and boundless curiosity. On each spread Romeo asks a question, set in clean, sans-serif type, about something found in a garden. For example: “In the garden, what has a trunk, branches, and many leaves?” A page turn reveals the answer—“A tree”—in a larger font on the upper left. The cheery art with multiple scenes per page has a retro feel, no doubt due to the fact that French illustrator Grée’s heyday was in the 1960s and ’70s; these images have been repurposed from earlier books. Details in the pictures, which feature Romeo, a multiracial cast of children, and various bugs, animals, butterflies, and birds, add more information. Romeo’s costume changes frequently. On the page about bees, he is wearing a beekeeper’s veil; he wears a striped sunsuit on the tree and wheelbarrow pages and, oddly, what looks like a motorcycle helmet on the page about rain. The formal, pedantic text of this British import sounds stilted: “Which prickly animals that sleep curled up might you see in the garden?” The answer, a hedgehog, will likely puzzle readers in the U.S., where hedgehogs live in zoos, not the backyard.

These explorations are limited. (Board book. 2-4)

This article originally appeared on Kirkus Reviews