Review: Black Dog by Levi Pinfold

black dog

Black Dog by Levi Pinfold

When the Hope family woke up one morning there was a great big black dog outside.  Mr. Hope thought it was the size of a tiger and called the police who advised him to just stay inside.  Mrs. Hope compared it to an elephant and the family shut the lights off so it wouldn’t know they were there.  Adeline woke up and saw a black dog the size of a T-Rex outside the window.  She closed the curtains.  Maurice woke up and thought it was the size of a Big Jeffy, deciding to stay under the covers.  But the littlest member of the family, Small, headed outside to meet the dog.  The dog was huge, the size of a house, and Small knew it could eat her up.  She ran off, telling the dog that it would just have to shrink to follow her.  As she ran, the dog got smaller and smaller, until it was able to fit into the house through the cat flap in the door.  That’s when the rest of the family realized that they had been very silly to be that worried about such a small black dog.

Pinfold manages to capture a certain quirkiness that creates a unique look and feel for this book.  His text builds the tension very high by the time that Small heads outside.  The frenzy of the other characters puts Small’s reaction in stark relief, making it all the more brave and amazing.  Her approach to the enormous dog is also wonderfully strange, running from it and having it shrink to follow her.  It makes a delicious sort of sense while you are wrapped in the spell that this book weaves.

The art is exceptional, filled with tiny details.  Pinfold has offered both smaller sepia toned illustrations that show the outside of the house and the continued reaction of the family, and also larger colorful images that add to the unusual feel of the book.  The size of the dog that Small confronts is astounding.  His eyes alone are her size, his nose the size of a car.  Breathtaking.

Highly recommended, this book is an unusual but very successful book.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Oh No! by Candace Fleming

oh no

Oh No! by Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann

A virtuoso picture book by two masters, this is bound to be a new favorite for toddler and preschool story times.  The story begins with Frog falling into a deep hole.  Oh no!  Mouse came along and tried reaching down but she fell in too.  Oh no!  Loris slowly came down from her tree to help, but an allergy made her sneeze and you guessed it, she fell in too.  Oh no!  Sun Bear tried to help, Monkey swung by and fell in, and then Tiger reveals himself fully above.  Sharp-eyed readers will have noticed him lurking from the very end papers right on through.  He’s ready to pounce on this hole full of juicy animals.  But wait!  There’s one more animal headed for the hole!  Oh yes! 

Fleming has written such a simple and yet jaunty text here.  It reads aloud so well, so vividly that there is no other way to read this book.  The text doesn’t rhyme, instead it is filled with so much repetition and rhythm.  There is the chorus of “Oh no!” that meets each animal as they tumble into the hole.  But there are also words that repeat as each animal is introduced. 

Rohmann did the illustrations as relief prints.  They have bold lines, lithe animals, and lots of action.  They also have that wonderful texture of prints that make them such a great choice for children’s books.  The illustrations lift this book even higher.

Get your hands on this for your programs.  I guarantee it will be part of your regular story rotation.  It’s also a great pick for children’s reader theater.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.