They are next to you as you fall asleep. When you wake, they are still there. The schedule of your day revolves around their meals and their necessity to take walks. There are times when you wonder who exactly is walking who. Their attention to every movement, sight and sound is astounding. When they mimic human characteristics, nothing is funnier.
Dogs make life infinitely better. They are eternal optimists. They radiate unconditional love. Good Boy (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, February 12, 2019) written and illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier depicts their insatiable desire for adventure.
These actions asked by a boy of his dog are done quickly with practiced skill. To further demonstrate the intelligence and adept physical qualities of the pup, the boy requests him to assume positions only done on two legs. His companion is certainly acting more human than canine.
With ease, commonplace, single word declarations are answered by the dog for his boy. It's not until the pooch begins to juggle, readers start to suspend belief. As the duo sit together at a table enjoying a meal prepared and served by the dog, laughter is struggling not to burst forth.
Leaving the house as best friends, the twosome power a covered, open-air vehicle by pedaling. (At this point, giggling surely will commence in earnest.) Reaching a beach, they work to fix a damaged boat. With one at the rudder and the other managing the rigging for the sail, they glide over choppy water. Landing on a tiny island, more construction ensues.
Within several page turns this dog and this boy experience an other-worldly escapade. A shared view results in coming full circle. The more traditional day-end tasks (well, most of them) bring a sense of calm to the story. Like this reader when walking her dog, you will wonder who the final two words reference.
One-word sentences, except for two two-word sentences, direct this narrative penned by Sergio Ruzzier. All of them except for one are punctuated by a period. Most readers will expect certain actions on the part of the dog or the boy when they read those sentences. Humor fills the story when unexpected words appear and when the illustrations tell a surprising tale. It's this not knowing what a page turn will bring, that elevates the word choices and pacing to wonderfully inventive; masterful.
Upon opening the matching dust jacket and book case, readers notice the crisp white canvas extends over the spine to the left on the back. The color palette seen on the front is the same on the back for the dog and his boy. This advises readers the events are taking place during the same day. On the back the boy tosses a ball of yarn for the dog to fetch. All the elements placed on the background on the dust jacket are varnished.
The opening endpapers are covered in a bright, golden orange. On the back the closing endpapers are a rich muted brilliant blue, a complementary color. The formal title page shows the boy running after the dog. It's here we notice, not for the first time, the socks on the boy. The one on his right foot is always sagging lower than the one on the left foot. On the dedication page the friends have stopped. The dog's position indicates he is ready for action.
Rendered in ink and watercolor Sergio Ruzzier uses white space expertly to frame each picture of the dog and the boy for the first thirteen sentences. When they are ready to leave the home, full color spreads across full-page and double-page pictures, taking them from one place of excitement to the next. For pacing some white canvas images are inserted. As noted above, the sagging sock is an endearing detail; others are the characters' noses, the occasional sight of the child's belly button, the dog's tongue appearing in concentration or in making a funny face, two fish watching the best buddies sailing or the signature flowers in Sergio's landscape scenes.
One of my many favorite illustrations is one of two on a background of white. It's for the word
The boy is tucked under the covers, a blue blanket, as he rests, eyes closed, on his pale red wrought iron bed. A green book the dog and he were reading is laying on the floor. On top of the blue blanket sits the dog, leaning back on one of his extended paws. His other paw is on his chest. His head is lifted as he softly croons for his boy.
Without a doubt whether you read this book, Good Boy written and illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier, alone, share it one-on-one or with a group, all will come under its spell. The simple words are superbly selected to be open to interpretation by the marvelous artwork. I can't imagine a professional or personal book collection without this title.
To learn more about Sergio Ruzzier and his other work, please follow the link attached to his name to access his website. Sergio Ruzzier has accounts on Instagram and Twitter. At the publisher's website you can view interior images. At author, reviewer and blogger Julie Danielson's site Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast you can view an abundance of process art. It's fascinating!