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.