I promised Molly I would write about some of her favorite books. First up is Katie Loves the Kittens, written and illustrated by John Himmelman, due in September 2008 from Henry Holt (9780805086829). I don’t laugh out loud at many books but I did with this one! The words and pictures work together perfectly, telling a fine story with on the mark canine and feline behavior.
Katie’s owner, Sara Ann, happily brings home three kittens, and Katie LOVES them right off. She’s totally unable to contain her enthusiasm and scares them witless. She tries to behave and be quiet but she just has to be with them, she can’t help herself. Katie frightens them again. Sara Ann scolds her, she berates herself, she’s so sad she goes to sleep. What happens when she wakes up? You’ll have to read for yourself. Cartoony drawings with lots of white space put Katie and the kittens center stage and simple lines explode with expression and animation. I felt so bad for Katie I just wanted to scoop her up and give her a hug. The final illustration is a delight! Molly gives this one 5 wags.
In The Nine Lives of Dudley Dog by John and Ann Hassett, published by Houghton Mifflin (9780618811533), Sister wants a cat for her birthday but gets Dudley instead. He takes off during the party and proceeds through a series of perilous adventures, just scraping by with his life. The same refrain ends each close call “Do you think you have nine lives like a cat?” That night a cat — looking very much like Dudley and wearing Dudley’s collar — returns to Sister. Her birthday wish came true. Hmmm. The Hassetts are definitely inventive picture book makers. My four-year-old niece pointed out the forshadowing in the cover illustration — she got it right away! Three wags from Molly
Molly is a rescue dog, so she insisted I write about A Home for Dixie: the True Story of a Rescued Puppy written by Emma Jackson with photographs by Bob Carey. It’s available now from HarperCollins (9780061449628/tr; 9780061449635/lb.) Emma tells us the heartwarming story of how she and Dixie got together and outstanding photos (lots of closeups) extend the story. Realistic and emotional but not cloying, this is a great addition to Molly’s Bookshelf. Five wags.
Another special dog finds a worthy home. Tupelo, abandoned by the side of the road with only her sock toy, Mr. Bones, courageously trots off in search of a place – “Everyone belongs somewhere” she says. She meets up with the BONEHEADS (Benevolent Order of Nature’s Exalted Hounds Earnest And Doggedly Sublime), listens to their stories, and observes their ritual bone-burying and wishes to Sirius, the Dog Star. A hobo named Garbage Pail Tex (wearing a shirt that reads ‘Going Places’) shepherds the dogs to Hoboken by train and he and his friends help find homes for the pooches. All except Tupelo. (Oh, my heart.) A full- bleed illustration shows Tupelo alone holding Mr. Bones in her mouth, the huge night sky above with Sirius shining in the distance. She makes her wish and is reunited with a good friend and finally finds her place. This folkloric story mixes up dogs, stars and trains and the power of the journey in a unique way, full of luscious language and subtle humor. And there’s so much to look at! Sweet uses watercolor and mixed media in full page illustrations, smaller sequential frames and extended foldouts. There are extras too – ancient star maps on the endpapers, a timeline in dog-years of dog heroes including Argos, Stickeen and Lassie, and information about Sirius. Five wags and a loud Arooooo!