Dream Dog by Lou Berger, illustrated by David Catrow
Harry wants a dog, but his father works at a pepper factory and sneezes all the time, so he won’t let Harry have a dog. Instead they get Harry a chameleon who turns colors, but Harry doesn’t love the chameleon. Luckily a friend of his does, so he gives her the chameleon. Harry decides that he will try to imagine up a dog with his X-35 Infra-Rocket Imagination Helmet. Suddenly there is a dog in his room. Harry names the dog Waffle and the two of them do everything together. No one else can see Waffle, but that doesn’t bother Harry in the least. After all, no one could really see the chameleon either. Then Harry’s father is let go from the pepper factory and goes into ping-pong balls instead. He brings home a real dog for Harry, but what about Waffle?
Berger was the head writer of Sesame Street for over a decade and my does his expertise shine here. His tone is playful and filled with joy. He creates humor out of what could have been a sad story. The ending is heartfelt and beautiful, dancing the perfect balance of loss and cheer. This book reads aloud wonderfully, actually begging to be shared.
Catrow’s illustrations are much calmer than many of his previous books. They still have a great energy to them but they also have a distinct sweetness that mellows them as well as a focus of a tale that is all about love of a dog.
Even in the crowded shelves of dog books, this is something special. It is a picture book that speaks to the power of imagination and dreams. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from copy received from Schwartz & Wade Books.
Okay, Andy! by Maxwell Eaton III
The author of the Max and Pinky books returns with a new duo, Andy and Preston. Andy is an alligator and Preston is a young coyote. The two of them make an unlikely team but one that works incredibly well for humor. Preston often can’t figure out what is really going on. So when Andy is hunting a rabbit, Preston thinks it is a game of tag. In the next chapter, Preston wants to take every thing they find, though Andy holds onto a stick for himself. Andy is so distracted that he doesn’t see the cliff coming and then he lets loose his anger on Preston. Then it is up to Andy to make things right, if he can. In the final chapter, Andy is trying to sleep when Preston wants to have him guess what kind of animal noise Preston is making. This quickly descends into a merry chaos and then the book comes full circle back to the rabbit in a very satisfying ending.
This is a graphic novel perfect for beginning readers. Eaton tells the story in just a few words, letting the illustrations carry most of the story rather than the words. He uses repeating words too, making it even funnier and also making it easier for the youngest readers to decipher. Filled with silly action, the book does speak to the ins and outs of friendship. Eaton’s art is clear and clean, his thick black lines filled with simple colors. The result is a graphic novel that is simple, easy and cheerful.
A great pick for beginning readers, children will enjoy the graphic novel format and the humor. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from digital galley received from Edelweiss and Blue Apple Books.