November 2, 2011 @ 6:25 pm | Filed under: Books, Picture Book Spotlight
A Dog Is a Dog by Stephen Shaskan, published by Chronicle Books.
The cover of this delightful picture book grabbed my kids’ attention immediately with its bright orange and turquoise palette; the big grinning doggy face made them giggle.
Those giggles never stopped: this is art that goes straight to a little kid’s funny bone.
In whimsical rhymes and big, comical images, we learn that a dog is a dog no matter what it’s doing—“Whether it suns on the beach, or glides on the ice.” “A dog is a dog, if it’s skinny or fat. A dog is a dog, unless it’s a…CAT!”
Would you believe that grinning doggy unzips his dog suit, and there’s a plump ginger cat inside? This is the point when Rilla’s giggles turned to shrieks of laughter. But the surprises don’t stop there…It seems a cat is a cat unless it’s a…
Oh, no, I’m not telling. But we all howled. I did not see that coming. Nor the next twist, nor the next! One of the things I love about this book is that it manages the near-impossible feat of employing the sort of rhythmic pattern that young children delight in, while simultaneously making unpredictable turns. And this while delivering art that bubbles over with humor and energy. I’ve become a huge Stephen Shaskan fan in one fell swoop. You remember last year when I went nuts over Jeremy Tankard and Tom Lichtenheld? Yeah, Shaskan is on that list. I’m officially (and totally on the spur of the moment) dubbing it the Mo Willems List: storyteller-illustrators whose art has won my heart with its bold black outlines and lively antics and hilarious facial expressions (often on creatures you wouldn’t think would be terribly expressive, like a dump truck or a pigeon or a woolly mammoth or…the thing inside Shaskan’s cat suit). [I’ve recently encountered another artist who belongs on this list, but I’m not allowed to tell you his name yet. And that, my friends, is what you might call a hint.]
Anyway, my dears…A Dog Is a Dog gets high marks from Wonderboy, Rilla, and Huck (not to mention their daddy and some amused big sisters). Enjoy.
Review copy received from publisher, but you know I don’t write about them unless they’re a hit with my own personal focus group.
P.S. Did you know November is Picture Book Month?
Photos from my SCBWI talk on middle-grade and chapter books
Eight Beloved Books
One of my best birthday presents
Blue horse, red heart, green flower