Pawcasso is what 11-year-old Jo names the basket-toting dog in town when a group of kids at the library mistake her for the dog’s owner. Jo is a lonely kid bored at home during the summer holidays and missing her father who works in a different city and visits the family periodically. She’s seen the dog walking through her neighborhood several times. The dog goes grocery shopping and can find its way home through pedestrian traffic and everything in town. As the kids fall more in love with “Pawcasso,” and by extension, Jo, she begins to enjoy having friends in her life. But what happens when the lie is exposed?
On top of all the issues, the town is engaged in a debate about whether Pawcasso should be allowed to roam free — off leash. Jo also begins to worry whether her new plan is endangering Pawcasso’s freedom.
I found this to be a surprisingly good read! I’m always nervous about animal books because I find most of them seriously boring. I’m pleased to announce that this is very much human-focused and not at all boring. Pawcasso manages to be a feel-good read, while highlighting important issues like loneliness and the desire to belong.
Jo’s fears and struggles were totally relatable. I could easily see how a person in her situation would lean into a case of mistaken identity. I also liked the library setting and the fact that the book is set in summer. There’s mention of summer activities like the kids’ art program at the library and the feel of summer (that nothing-to-do-with-all-this-time vibe) runs through the entire book.
The story is also set in an idyllic town and the kids take public transportation, the town has an on-leash vs off-leash debate, and there’s a whole lot of activism to keep Pawcasso free to roam. Finally, the dog itself was a great story anchor. I had the same curiosities as Jo: whose dog was he? How on earth did he go grocery shopping? Would he get lost or hurt someday “running errands”? Thankfully, all my questions were answered.
Pawcasso is an adorable middle grade graphic novel with a relatable protagonist and a sweet dog friend. Set in the summer, this book is perfect for fans of graphic novels about art, books about dogs, and stories about kids dealing with loneliness and finding their circle. If you like feel-good stories set in small towns, don’t miss this new addition.
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I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.