Quote of the Month

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

Friday, July 20, 2012

Fruitful Friendship

Sometimes when you go to your local bookstore you have a list in hand, a very specific purpose.  Other times you make a beeline to the recent release shelves.  And sometimes you wander...until the title on a spine, a familiar author's or illustrator's name pops out or when a color combination on a cover catches your eye. 

At first all I saw on a narrow strip was Claudia Boldt--- Odd Dog---NorthSouth.  Intrigued by the title, I pulled it off the shelf and opened it up so I could see the full jacket display, front and back.  I was completely hooked by the illustrations, comical-shaped dogs, one using an apple as a bowling ball and the other in front of his doghouse looking backward, both framed, top and sides with a pattern of leaves among red and orange apples.

Opening the book a single shade from one of the apples brightly colors front and back endpapers.  Appearing next is the first title page; author's name, title, the larger dog imploring the smaller who is holding an apple, all on steely, greenish teal paper.  This is followed by a two-page print of an apple tree loaded with fruit, others lying on the fringes.

Across the next two pages is an illustration of a cluster of houses surrounded by apple trees focusing on a visual similar to the front cover; featuring the verso and again the title and author's name with the publisher.

Peanut was an odd dog.  
Unlike all the other dogs he did not
care for bones, but he loved apples.
His apple tree was his pride and joy.

Not only is that apple tree his pride and joy but it is his obsession; believing the neighboring dog, Milo covets his fruit.

Having worrisome dreams, nightmares, he awakens each morning counting his apples to make sure they are all there.  To his abject horror one morning he notices the most scrumptious specimen is about to fall on the other side of the fence...right into Milo's yard.  His frantic efforts to secure his treasure are for naught. 

Falling into a pit of despair, woefully fretting about Milo always getting the best, disaster strikes pitiful Peanut.  Oh yes, that juicy, red circle of gourmet delight falls with a resounding thud right into the center of the other dog's dish.  An unexpected response from his neighbor prompts Peanut to reevaluate his assumptions and priorities.

Boldt's unique color palette, earthy backgrounds with a dusty gray undertone, splashes of color, reds, golds, browns and teals, combine to present a warm and pleasing effect. Hints of humor abound, Milo appearing in his dreams wearing a bandit mask, carrying a sack loaded with apples, the series of vignettes featuring Peanut's attempts to get that big apple and the facial expressions on each of the pooches.  By combining layers of india inks, line drawings and color using Photoshop Boldt is able to recreate her original artistic expression of using screen printing and linocut. (There is more about her technique in the link below.)

With a minimum amount of text but visuals packed with energy and emotion, Claudia Boldt, winner of the Booktrust Best New Illustrator 2011 Award, gives readers in Odd Dog (NorthSouth) a canine creation on the value of sharing and the resulting friendship it may bring.  The Booktrust charity, based in the UK, states their mission as:

Booktrust inspires everyone to enjoy books, reading and writing and the lifelong benefits that they bring. Our aim is to build a literate, connected and creative society.

Enjoy the extra visuals of some of the book's pages below as provided at the Random House Children's Books website.

It's a given that students love dog books.  Without exception my teachers are always in need of fresh, new books featuring apples for fall and plant studies.  This book covers all those desires with the added bonus of fun-filled illustrations and a narrative voice with insightful lessons learned.

Below is an earlier trailer using names different from the final printing.

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