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.