A girl named Nicky and big brown dog named Barkus become fast friends when Nicky’s favorite uncle unexpectedly drops him off at her house. Each of the five short chapters is a self-contained episode narrated by Nicky. Barkus visits Nicky’s school, has a birthday party, and finds a new kitten friend named Baby. The stories are engaging, but not overly exciting or action-packed. In the final chapter, Nicky and Barkus go camping. Nicky tells Barkus a bedtime story, neatly summarizing their relationship thus far and tying the chapters together.

Bright, cheery animated illustrations by Marc Boutavant help make this a lighthearted, gentle read for a new reader. The buggy cartoon-style eyes give plenty of expression to the characters; Nicky, a compassionate young girl, and Barkus, a smiling affectionate dog. The story and sentences are simple, the type is large, and the pages have abundant white space, providing opportunity to engage a new reader. This bridge between a picture book and a chapter book would also make a nice read aloud for a younger child, particularly one who has or wants a special relationship with a pet.

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