Quote of the Month

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

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Lab Lover's Double Woof

Stephen Huneck's final gift to the world of children's and dog lover's literature is Sally's Great Balloon Adventure.  Mr. Huneck began his Sally adventures in 2000 with Sally Goes to the Beach followed almost yearly with Sally Goes to the Mountains, Sally Goes to the Farm, Sally Goes to the Vet, Sally's Snow Adventure,  and Sally Gets a Job. 
Sally's family has decided to take her to a balloon festival.  Although she knows what a balloon is, she has never seen a hot air balloon.  Being a typical Labrador her ultra sensitive nose leads her to a balloon with fried chicken in its basket.  As the crowd watches the balloons lift off, Sally seeks that fried chicken.  After falling into the balloon she grabs a rope to pull herself out.  The rope, of course, anchored the balloon and Sally is up, up and away.  Sally can't believe her good fortune to be alone with all that chicken as the people calling her name shrink to dots.  Down on the ground below all types of efforts are being made to save Sally as she floats among the birds dreaming of fried chicken.  Eventually the balloon drifts lower to the ground near a school playground.  A student whose family flies balloons calls out to Sally to play tug-of-war. Getting into the game Sally grabs a rope, warm air is released and the gondola gently lands among the children.  Whew! while the ride was fun, being on the ground with a stomach full of fried chicken is just right.

Stephen's Sally books capture that pure doggy essence of Labradors through placement, position and angles of Sally and the other characters on the pages.  His concise sentences tell the tale with the simplicity that a dog might view the world.  Bold, bright colors convey the joy of living each adventure with curiosity and wonder. 

Stephen Huneck was an extraordinary woodcut print artist as well as sculptor and painter. His work is housed in the White House Collection of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C, the American Kennel Club Library and the Museum of American Folk Art in New York City.    In the back of this Sally book he adds an artist's note on the woodcut print technique. 

I am the proud owner of all the Sally books, one of Stephen's wood cut prints and several of his T-shirts.   As they say, a book is a present that you can open again and again. Stephen's legacy will be that present for generations.   How lucky for our children and those with the heart of a child.

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