I hadn’t heard of this rhyming picture book, but when I saw it at the library, the front cover made me want to pick it up: a solid-looking dog on a ladder, adjusting a mysterious contraption made of pots and pans and colanders and whisks and wires, in front of an old TV that seems to be showing a staticky picture of a poodle. How could I not be intrigued?

The book opens with Wilma and Walter Wimbledon being woken up by a weird noise. Walter goes and checks it out, and comes back to say it’s just their dog, Stanley, howling at the moon. As the night continues, each of the four Wimbledon kids gets woken up by something, and each time Walter checks it out but comes back saying, “It’s only Stanley.” Walter doesn’t seem at all perplexed by Stanley’s nighttime activities, offering a straightforward explanation for each weird noise or smell: Stanley “fixed the oil tank” or is “making catfish stew,” as if these are perfectly normal things for a beagle to be doing. What Stanley is actually up to is … considerably more interesting.

The art of this book is fun: I love the way each kid who gets woken up piles into their parents’ bed, which obviously gets a bit full by the end, and I love the wordless spreads where Walter goes to see what Stanley’s up to, accompanied each time by the family cat, Max, who seems to know more about what’s going on than Walter does, and whose curiosity means that he returns to bed in a slightly different state after each investigation. Those wordless spreads are totally my favorite part, especially the one with Stanley in the kitchen with a crazy setup of beakers and retorts, determinedly stirring a pot bubbling over with a mysterious green liquid (which the cat, of course, laps up from a spill on the floor).

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