Book Review: Slog’s Dad by David Almond


Slog’s Dad by David Almond, illustrated by Dave McKean

Originally a short story, this small book is eerie, haunting and achingly sad.  Slog’s father is dead and he knows it.  But when he sees the scruffy man outside the butcher shop, he knows that it is his father who has returned to see him.  But Davie, his best friend, is just as convinced that this man is a fake.  The story explores the way that Slog’s father died, slowly and by tangible steps.  It is a story of grief but also one of hope that asks unanswerable questions and allows readers to stay in the in-between world where hope thrives but so does doubt.

Almond and McKean paired up for The Savage, an amazing work of fiction.  This story is gentler and hopeful.  It quietly explores grief, allowing the poignant moments to live, hover and hope.  It is a story of dreams and beauty, of the unexpected and the amazing.  Almond’s writing is at times so blunt that it is traumatic and unblinking.  At other times, it is eerie and bizarre.  And at still others it is haunting, hopeful and trembling.

McKean’s illustrations help bring the story to a new level.  From the almost photographic detail of some of them, where the warped faces are the only clue that you are not looking at a photograph to the line drawings that soar with greens and blues hovering above heads.  These are illustrations that explore the emotions of the book.  They are not concerned with a unified look and feel, but with the look and feel that is right for that moment in the story. 

A gorgeous work of writing and art, this book is a testament to grief, hope and wonder.  Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from library copy.

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2011 Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards

Roger Sutton announced the winners and honor books for the 2011 Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards on his blog. 

Here they are:

Fiction Winner

Blink & Caution by Tim Wynne-Jones

Fiction Honors


Chime by Franny Billingsley

Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke


Nonfiction Winner

The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism & Treachery by Steve Sheinkin

Nonfiction Honors


Into the Unknown: How Great Exploreres Found Their Way by Land, Sea and Air by Stewart Ross, illustrated by Stephen Biesty

Can We Save the Tiger? by Martin Jenkins, illustrated by Vicky White


Picture Book Winner

Pocketful of Posies: A Treasure by Nursery Rhymes by Salley Mavor

Picture Book Honors


Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Rick Allen

Pecan Pie Baby by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Sophie Blackall