Saturday, July 30, 2022

Dog Picture Books

Sorosiak, Carlie and Holzwarth, Devon. Everywhere With You
May 17th 2022 by Walker Books
Copy provided by Edelweiss Plus

In this vividly illustrated picture book, we meet a dog who is not well cared for. Outside at all hours, the dog, the dog howls inconsolably, digs holes in the year, and is left to his own devices in an overgrown yard. When a girl appears on the other side of the fence with food, the two bond. While the dog can't get through the fence, the girl reads and talks to him, pets him, and brings him food. The stories he hears give him hope, and the brief glimpses of the girl and her family in their home make him long for the warm and supportive family he has never had. He howls, and the girl comes to comfort him, but he has to stay in his own yard until a storm damages the fence and he is able to escape. He rushes to the girl's house, where he is taken in for the night. Luckily, the neighbors agree to let the family keep the dog. After a good bath, the dog snuggles up with his little girl, whom he would follow anywhere.

This is a bit larger format than many picture books (10.5" x 12"), which gives Holzworth plenty of space for vibrantly colored illustrations full of movement and detail. The color palette has a lot of peach but also black, representing the dog's loneliness at night. There is an abundance of foliage depicted, and the girl's stories are represented with backgrounds of all the characters she voices from her books

The dog isn't shown as being abused, so younger readers will just understand that the dog is lonely, and at least he is not chained up. Clearly, however, he is neglected, which makes this tale even sadder for adult readers. Like Papp's Madeline Finn and the Shelter Dog, this points out the power of reading out loud, even if it is to a dog. Since my dog is the only one to whom I read out loud, I can say that he enjoyed this story. Or the belly rub that went with it. Hard to tell!

Sorosiak is known to me for her great middle grade books like I, Cosmo and and My Life as a Cat, as well as the upcoming Always, Clementine(September 2022), but she also writes a riveting picture book. Pair this with Jones' Perdu, Thompson's A Family for Louie, Guojing's Stormy, or Cummings' Can I Be Your Dog for a wooftastic read about dogs connecting with people who love them.

Sayegh, Rob. Love Tails. 
March 9th 2021 by Harry N. Abrams

This short picture book announces that "every dog has a tail!" and show us a variety of dogs romping outside and getting to know each through sniffing. The book is arranged so that the dogs appear to be in a long line; we see one dog's bottom, and when we turn the page, we see his head. There are a variety of dogs, little and big, that frolic across the pages. The final message is that a dog's wiggling and waggling tale always proclaims "I love you". 

There must be a trend for children's book illustrations in the last five years to increasingly embrace a 1960s aesthetic. This has the sponge painting texture to the background, exuberantly colored flowers, and an angular feel to the dogs that makes me think of some of the books I had as a child. This made me think of Brown's The Color Kittens, a bit. The dogs have heart shaped noses and often have goofy expressions on their faces which are rather delightful. 

The text is very simple and would bear up to multiple rereadings; something about it just begs for the reader to go back to the beginning and start all over again. Yound readers will giggle at the pictures of dogs sniffing each other's behinds, but that is, in fact, how dogs greet each other! 

I love dogs, and read dog books to my own dog! There are never enough books about our furry friends. Include this in an ever growing stack of books about adorable dogs that includes Boyer's So Cute! Puppies, Green's Silly Fluffy Barking Jumping Wet-Nosed Dog Book, Ward's Dog Love: A Picture Book for Dog Lovers, and my favorite, Whaite's 100 Dogs: Playful Pups to Count.

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