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TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER:’Best in Show’ is ‘abso-poodley’ cute fun

Who has the best dog in the world?

Um, that would be you, right? There’s no other dog like yours, and if you put your pup up against every other dog in the neighborhood, the city or even the entire country, you know who would win. Whether Fido is a flea-bag or Buster is a blue-ribbon-getter, your dog is a winner with you.

But what if the blue ribbon was up for grabs — for real? In the new book “Best of Show” by Karen LeFrak, illustrated by Andrew Day, a young dog lover faces the issue and takes matters into her own paws.

Ever since her Aunt Nancy gave her a stuffed pink poodle for her sixth birthday, Abby has loved poodles. She finds them “abso-poodley” terrific, so when her dog Jewel delivered a litter of puppies, Abby spotted the most special one immediately.

She named the puppy Gem, and when Aunt Nancy asked if Abby would like to help raise the pups, Abby said YES!

Every day, Abby watched the little furballs grow. She noted when their eyes opened and when they stumbled over to the water bowl. The puppies were soooo cute, especially when Aunt Nancy painted their little tails with food coloring so she and Abby could tell the pups apart.

Abby was abso-poodley sure that Gem would be a show dog someday.

So when Gem was old enough for testing, Abby watched closely. Her friend Wendell walked Gem with a lead. He stopped, and Gem stopped. He walked fast, and Gem did, too. Without a doubt, Gem had potential, but it was going to take lots of practice.

Wendell and Abby took Gem to small competitions. Sometimes Gem won, and sometimes she lost to other poodles in the ring. Eventually, hoping for the best, Wendell entered her in the grandest dog show in the entire year.

There was a lot of primping to be done. There was some snipping and washing and drying. Gem had her bracelets on and curlers in her hair until showtime, and she looked gorgeous. Wendell, Gem and Abby were ready as they could be.

Even if there was a disaster…

Whether your canine companion is a mutt or a model for dog food commercials, I’ll bet your child has imagined the family pooch on a poster a time or two. “Best in Show” speaks to those kids who know their Fido is first, no matter what.

LeFrak owns poodles (surprised?), and she gently takes kids through the steps that go into making a winner in the dog ring by telling the story through the eyes of a young girl who learns how to help her dog strut her stuff. There is no controversy-making anything here, just a kid-friendly book made even better by adorable illustrations.

If you have a 4- to 7-year-old diehard dog lover in your family, a kid with a flair for drama, this book will be a welcome before-school-starts treat. For that child, “Best in Show” is a very cute tail.

Terri Schlichenmeyer’s children’s book reviews appear weekly in View.

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