"Hugo and the Impossible Thing" by Renee Felice Smith and Chris Gabriel, illustrated by Sydney Hanson (Flamingo Books, March 30), ages 3-7, 32 pages, $17.99.
STORY: A bulldog named Hugo lives in a softly colored forest below an imposing bluff called The Impossible Thing. He wonders what's on the other side. He decides to find out tomorrow.
On his way home through the forest, he asks friends whether they have crossed The Impossible Thing. One by one they tell him, a) he's not the right kind of animal to do that, and b) they are, and c) they haven't tried because it's impossible.
He replies politely that he intends to try.
The next day, they show up at the base of The Impossible Thing — to help him. Hugo has inspired them. And he needs their help: The thing is very, very, very difficult.
I have not held a copy of this book. I requested a digital one at the last minute, too late for my deadline. So I bought a download for my e-book reader, but it doesn't display images well. However, there is a librarian on YouTube who knows the authors and does a great job reading the book aloud. And I watched an hour-long interview with the authors (see arkansasonline.com/426hugo).
I am qualified to say that "Hugo" delivers a useful message with memorable repetition, and Sydney Hanson's illustrations set a charming scene using digital and traditional media.
Smith plays Nell Jones on "NCIS: Los Angeles"; Gabriel is a composer. Hugo is modeled on their former pet; Gabriel has the dog's face tattooed on his forearm.
Read to Me is a weekly review of short books.