Mitchell honors her puppy-mill rescue dog by modeling her new picture book hero on him. Told in first person by an unnamed boy with new-to-the-neighborhood loneliness, the tale centers on his attempt to convince his single dad to adopt a shelter dog. Toby’s initial shyness unfolds to charming exuberance, but his mischief includes floor puddles, a trampled garden, and eyeglass destruction. Fortunately, the boy’s commitment to behavior training and Toby’s well-timed discovery of a lost shoe create a cuddly conclusion. The graphite and watercolor wash illustrations are digitally colored with muted hues. Mitchell enlists a variety of compositions, from graphic novel–style panels to full spreads. The fluffy white pup’s expressions echo the varying moods of the narrative. VERDICT This familiar story with a family cast not often seen in picture books will warm dog-loving hearts.— School Library Journal
Inspired by her own dog’s adoption story, illustrator Mitchell’s (Kenya’s Art) first book as author centers on a boy who has moved into a new neighborhood with his (presumably single) father...The highlight of this getting-to-know-you tale is Mitchell’s visual channeling of her characters’ emotions, both human and canine.
— Publishers Weekly
The book’s warmth and appeal come from the artwork. Pencil drawings are tinted with a soft palate of watercolor washes and digitally added colors. And while the soft browns, blues, greens, and grays create a subdued, rather melancholy tone throughout the book, both the boy and his lovable dog are smiling by the final scene.
Toby is a pleasing pup.
— Kirkus Reviews
Let’s talk story. TOBY focuses on two relationships – that of a boy and his dog, and that of a boy and his dad. The boy and his dog story is classic, and it’s the one I’m sure everyone else will focus on. But there’s real depth in the dad story as well. We don’t see a mom in the picture, which hits home for me as a single dad. And I know how hard it is to be a single parent with a kid who wants a dog ... In TOBY, everyone bends and grows to be able to keep the pup. So maybe in a sense Toby can be seen as a stand-in for hope. It takes everybody working together to keep it.
— Full review at Fred Koehler
A lovely story made perfect by the charming illustrations created by the author. This is a sweet, simplified version of Toby's life which is perfect for children getting their "right dog" from a local shelter or pet store.
— Children’s Bookseller
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