Quote of the Month

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

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Lover of Books Returns

When an author, illustrator or both create a character that warms your heart, it is with a secret, special kind of joy you welcome them back in another book.  You're anxious to see if all the little personality quirks are still present; those little details you found endearing.  You're wondering if there will be new characters to meet, new adventures unfolding.  Anticipation runs high.

In Dog Loves Books author/illustrator Louise Yates introduced readers to a furry, white, four-legged little guy who could not contain his passion for the printed word bound between the covers of not one but oodles of books.  When customers didn't pour through the doors of his new bookstore, he lost himself in the stories found in the volumes surrounding him.  A first customer awakens in him the discovery that the best part of books is passing on their joy to others.

Dog's bookstore is thriving when an interesting package arrives one morning.  It's a book from his Aunt Dora but this one is filled with emptiness; no words or pictures.  In a note she invites him to fill the pages with drawings, exploring worlds of his own creation.  He gathers pens, brushes and pencils because Dog Loves Drawing (Alfred A. Knopf).

Drawing a door he walks through, quickly putting pencil to paper to form a stickman companion.  Doodling to their hearts content, they readily agree with the old adage, "the more the merrier."  Dog draws a duck who draws an owl who draws a crab.

All shades of colors, all kinds of tools are being used by these artistic friends with abandon as their imaginations are set free.  With a turn of page they agree to take a trip, a train trip.  From track to sea to sand each contributes to the food, fun and fantasy of their travels.

All's well until Duck's lack of common sense or impulsive impishness adds an unwelcome guest.  Luckily Dog, perhaps because he is so well read, comes up with the perfect avenue of escape.  Horizons expanded, Dog is thankful for his Aunt Dora, her gift and his happy new pals.

Using the technique of an unseen voice, Louise Yates, in a casual, conversational tone, tells this fresh tale of another Dog discovery.  Inter-mixed with the narration is the simple dialogue between Dog and the newly drawn characters.  Her word choice is filled with delight, exploration and curiosity fulfilled.

"Hello," said Dog.
"I'm not sure what else to draw."
"Let's DOODLE!" suggested the stickman.
"That's the best way to come up with ideas."
So that is what they did.

As in Dog Loves Books, Yates uses her endpapers to foreshadow in the beginning and extend the conclusion; this time in white with soft red drawing tools all in a row followed by...those tools being used for fun.  Pencil and watercolor illustrations in delicate shades, appropriately placed on each of the pages, using lots of white space, reach out to the reader.  Her talent with this medium is evident in the emphasis placed on the pens, brushes and pencils; rendering them in lifelike color and size among the sketchier characters and their drawings.

Dog is as endearing as ever with his small legs and paws, perky nose, bent ears and upturned tail.  Aunt Dora is an older version, tan, wearing spectacles and a straw hat.  There is a lightness, a quiet joy, throughout the story featured on the characters's faces with wide eyes and smiling mouths...almost all the time.

In celebration of art and the release of creativity Dog Loves Drawing written and illustrated by Louise Yates is an enchanting adventure.  It is a more than worthy companion to the first title further forging the bond between readers and Dog.  I can't help but wonder what other hidden talents this canine character may have or what other undertakings await him.

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