THE LOUDEST BARK

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Quiet fills the house where Simone lives with their busy parents. It’s the complete opposite of the noisy house across the street, where Simone’s new babysitter, Chloe, lives with her pregnant dog, Piano. Amid the color and bright energy at Chloe’s, Simone has a blast playing dress-up in the costumes Chloe designs for TV and theater productions. When Simone falls in love with a “dazzling” silk dress, they dream of wearing one just like it and having a puppy of their own too. Narrated by Simone, the text never indicates pronouns for Simone or explicitly discusses their gender identity. However, sharing their true name plays a significant role in the story’s positive resolution. Characters use Simone’s old name several times before Simone introduces their true name, but once they know it, neither Chloe nor Simone’s parents hesitate to use it. Illustrations depict Simone, their dad, and Chloe with brown skin and dark hair, and Simone’s mom with pale skin and blond hair. The use of color in Simone’s surroundings matches their shifting emotions, capturing sadness with muted shades and happiness with bright, contrasting ones. Ultimately Simone’s feelings are centered in the narrative, and the resolution emphasizes the joy of belonging and self-expression.

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