Quote of the Month

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

Thursday, August 6, 2015

This Phenomenal Pooch

Most, if not all, people chosen by one or more dogs to be their person can say with confidence their dog is like no other dog in the history of dogs.  Each canine companion has a set of quirks as unique to them as fingerprints are to a human.  Some of our furry friends are Frisbee catcher champions, sheep herders, super snoopers finding all sorts of things with their noses, and some are extraordinary protectors, ever watchful.  Others can run or walk for hours, or swim like an otter all day long with minimal rest.  Those swimmers may branch out to be expert rock divers and hole diggers.  You may find a combination of these skills in a single dog.  All of them, at the end of the day, will look for you; especially if it's dinnertime.

Given the variety of talents exhibited by our pups it's easy to believe our dog is the best regardless of what it is they do.  My Dog, Bob (Holiday House, July 30, 2015) written and illustrated by Richard Torrey makes all other pooches pale in comparison.  This dog takes clever to a whole new level.

This is my dog, Bob.

First thing in the morning Bob gets a great big hug from his human.  When it comes to breakfast, this dog is ready.  Every ordinary canine on the planet is the very same.

The remarkable thing about Bob is he not only cooks his own breakfast but breakfast for Jeff and his parents.  He's a regular Chef Bow-Ar-Dee.  After the meal it's time for the family to take a drive.  You'll never guess who has his paws on the steering wheel.

Unless there is a raging storm all dogs love the out-of-doors.  Bob is no exception.  I wonder if his clubs are custom made.  His attraction to bones gives him a chance to let his expertise shine in a very special spot.

Jeff has a neighbor named Mimi who has a dog too.  She thinks her dog, Truffles, is better than Bob. (She certainly has a lot to learn.)  Surprisingly enough when it comes to stick catching, sitting and speaking the outcome is unexpected.  Bob knows best.  No apology necessary.

Bob's boy, Jeff, narrates this story as one would expect for someone his age.  Richard Torrey uses short, simple statements along with dialogue.  Both are initially unassuming but when the page turn reveals the twist, you can't help but laugh out loud at the contrast.  The truth in the conversations continues to build so when the my-dog-is-better-than-your-dog competition takes place each reader can draw their own conclusion.  Here is another passage.

And like many dogs, Bob loves
to ride in the car...
Ready, Bob? (Jeff)
...especially when he's driving.
Buckle your seat belts,
everyone. (Bob)

On the front of the matching dust jacket and book case readers are given a very large clue as to one of Bob's spectacular skills.  To the left, on the back, he and Jeff are strolling side by side within an oval framed in the sky blue used on the front.  The opening endpapers in the same blue hue and the closing endpapers in pale yellow provide a background for Bob in various positions in six rows with eight "poses" per row.  On the title page Richard Torrey begins the narrative with Bob waking up his boy.

Rendered in watercolor and oil pencil Torrey shifts between two-page images and single-page pictures.  The canvas for his characters changes from white, to yellow and blue.  Another predominant color is grass green.  So Bob, Jeff, and his parents stand out, the background elements are sometimes lightened.  

The expressions on the faces, the dots and curves for eyes, and the smiling mouths supply a lighthearted feel to the illustrations.  It's important to note that during the competition Jeff's hand rarely leaves Bob's head; they are always connected.  Perhaps this is why Richard Torrey's dedication reads

To all the Bobs out there---quietly amazing.

One of my favorite pictures is the first one.  Bob has gone to Jeff's bedside to greet him in the morning.  Jeff is now kneeling on the floor giving Bob his first hug of the day.  Hearts are above their heads and Bob's tail is wagging.  The use of white draws our attention to the rumpled bed, Jeff and Bob.  There is lots of love in this scene.

Heartwarming and funny My Dog, Bob written and illustrated by Richard Torrey is a definite read for dog lovers and anyone who enjoys great storytelling.  More than once Torrey leads us to a point only to switch directions.  As to the outcome of the competition, I think Bob is exceedingly smart.

To discover more about Richard Torrey please follow the link attached to his name to access his website.  He also provides a link there to his blog.  At the publisher's website a few discussion questions are shown.

No comments:

Post a Comment