Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Seasonal Smiles

April 2007 heralded the birth of two new characters in children's literature.  Either one of them could be a beloved member of a family as a precious pooch or treasured toy.  Together they bring magic to the pages of their books now numbering four.

In each volume three everyday events are highlighted with focused and funny results. New meaning is given to going outside, wanting to play with a pal and changing your name in Dog and Bear: Two Friends, Three Stories (A Neal Porter Book, Roaring Brook Press, April 2007).  Dog and Bear: Two's Company (A Neal Porter Book, Roaring Brook Press, April 2008) features running away and ice cream, birthday cakes and candles, and being tired and tender care.  A problem pail, brash bouncing and organizational overload keep the two friends busy in Dog and Bear: Three To Get Ready (A Neal Porter Book, Roaring Brook Press, September 2009).

With Halloween a little over six weeks away, excitement for this autumnal celebration is already building.  Laura Vaccaro Seeger's newest title, Dog And Bear: Tricks and Treats (A Neal Porter Book, Roaring Brook Press), highlights the pair's preparations.  Their take on the simplest things makes for the silliest moments.

The first of three stories finds Dog and Bear wandering around a costume shop.  Bear holds up superhero apparel advising Dog, wearing a hot dog disguise, this is the one he wants to try.  In the changing room is a mirror.

Bear believes it is another Bear, identical in every respect to him.  Running to get Dog announcing this amazing news, the two now stand before the mirror.  As you can guess the final sentence proves that two heads are not necessarily better than one.

Halloween night has arrived in story two.  Bear is calmly reading his favorite book, the first book in this series, in his rocking chair.  Every time the doorbell rings, Dog leaps up eager to greet the trick-or-treaters.

After the traditional chorus rings out, Dog always replies treat.  After numerous visitors, Bear comes to check on Dog wondering why they still have candy.  Oh, they still have candy; way too much candy.

This title closes with Dog and Bear heading out to roam the streets, bags in hand.  At the first house a ghost refuses to give them any treats.  He, like the readers, can easily see that Dog and Bear are not wearing costumes.

The two look as they do every single day of the week.  A tennis-match-type argument ensues; back and forth, back and forth.  The final reveal leaves the ghost boo-less.

In each of the books, as well as this one, Laura Vaccaro Seeger, is a master at using a minimum amount of words for maximum results.  Within nine pages she successfully engages her readers, endears them to her characters and delivers a conclusion guaranteed to result in delightful peals of laughter.  Character conversations and thoughts build with a gentle tension; we know something is coming but we're not quite sure what it will be.  Therein lies Seeger's gift.

A consistency in the color palette, primary colors plus green and brown, with few exceptions is used in all the books.  These bold hues, against the pristine white of the background, pop off the page like familiar old friends.  The book case presents a clear, welcoming theme as do the opening and closing endpapers in orange.  On the title page the pumpkin present on the cover has now been carved into a jack-o-lantern with Dog and Bear on either side holding it.

Each story title, The Other Bear, Ding Dong and No Treats For You, is accompanied by a small illustration alluding to the narrative.  For most of the pictures Laura Vaccaro Seeger uses a single page.  Sometimes she will include two smaller framed visuals on a page.

Bear with his buttoned parts and Dog with his collar of gold are full of life especially in their facial expressions and body movements.  One of my favorite illustrations in this title is Dog greeting two trick-or-treaters, a skeleton and a mummy, at the door.  His nose is in one of their bags.  Careful readers will notice the difference between the tables with the bowl of treats in this picture in comparison to the previous one.  Seeger is building up to the ending in the best possible way.

I am a huge fan of this series written and illustrated by Laura Vaccaro Seeger.  This new title, Dog and Bear: Tricks And Treats, is as clever and captivating as the others.  They are ideal for the intended audience and those of us lucky enough to be able to read them aloud.

For further information about Laura Vaccaro Seeger and her work please visit her website by following the link embedded in her name.  For two separate activity kits follow the links here and here. To celebrate this new book I am hosting a giveaway.  Please enter below for a chance to win a Dog and Bear READ poster and one hundred matching bookmarks.

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