Quote of the Month

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

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

For Love Of A Dog #6

Some dogs crave the comfort of a crate harking back to their origins as wolves in dens.  My dog did not.  Some dogs favor one form of specifically created canine resting places over another.  My dog did not.  Some dogs require a particular spot in their home in which to sleep.  My dog did not.

Anywhere, whether comfy or not, Xena snoozed in every room in our house.  I quickly learned to buy extra-large dog beds so we could nap together.  After each early morning run or walk in the summer, to avoid the heat of the day, we would come back home to rest.

At night there was no question as to where she would sleep.  She had her own queen-size bed which she allowed me to share.  Sometimes she would be close enough with a short reach, I could feel her heart beating.  Before her breath slowed in sleep I whispered to her "I love you, Xena." Every. Single. Night.  I still do.

Dogs do love their sleep.  A new bed can be cause for a canine celebration.  Debut author Christian Trimmer shares the trials and tribulations of a pooch with a problem in Simon's New Bed (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, August 25, 2015) with illustrations by Melissa van der Paardt.

What do you think of your new bed, Simon?
You like it?


The unseen narrator and Simon leave for a walk with the promise of Simon napping upon their return.  Simon can hardly wait to try out the new bed; only stopping for a quick sip first.  He races down the hallway to the boy's bedroom coming to a screeching halt in the doorway.

How is this possible?  Miss Adora Belle, the family cat, is resting on his new red bed.  With calm courtesy he points out her error.  She remains unmoved.  Howling, barking and dragging said bed do not work either.  This kitty is not going to be disturbed by a D. O. G.

Simon reasons she might not like him being in her bed.  She could care less.  Tricks have no effect.  Simon does the unbelievable.  This cat is in blissful statue mode.

Going from total glee before his walk to this state of affairs is almost more than Simon can bear.  Then a thought so out of the ordinary he can hardly trust it pops into his mind.  Would this work?  Could this work?  Miss Adora Belle makes certain it works.

It's wonderfully clever to have the narrative begin before the title page, setting the stage for the wordless activity which follows.  Christian Trimmer continues to build reader anticipation with the next four sentences in which Simon rushes toward his new bed.  This adds to the comedic effect of the discovery and subsequent attempts by Simon to get Miss Adora Belle to vacate.  Word choices and phrase lengths supply pacing while elevating the humor and frustration growing in Simon.  This makes the resolution all the sweeter.  Here is sample a passage.

He even tried to trick her.
Still nothing.
Simon realized he had only one option left---
one shameful, embarrassing option.

As soon as I set eyes on the matching front dust jacket and book case, I knew this book was going to be packed with giggles and grins.  The dejected look on Simon's face coupled with the pure satisfaction on Miss Adora Belle's features tells the tale.  When you add in the labeling text with the arrows, how can you not help but laugh?  On the back, to the left, is Simon's new bed wrapped in a white bow.  The opening and closing endpapers are in a shade of the rich red used throughout this title.

The image spanning two pages for the title speaks volumes with Miss Adora Belle smiling and looking directly at the reader as she makes her way to Simon's new bed.  We know before Simon what is going to happen. (I can hear the laughter already.)  Rendered digitally the illustrations vary in size; either single page, double page or vignettes grouped to depict a particular point.

Melissa van der Paardt supplies more fun with her pictures visualizing something different than the text.  When Simon rehydrates, he is drinking from the toilet.  As he races down the hallway, he is wrapped in toilet paper.  The expressions shown by Simon in contrast to the contentment on Miss Adora Belle face highlight the playfulness of the text.

One of my favorite illustrations is the two-page wordless spread at the beginning when Simon first sees Miss Adora Belle on his new bed.  He is standing in a ray of light in the open doorway.  Pure shock is displayed across his face.  He nearly drops the bone in his mouth.  Our eyes travel to the right on a close-up of the cat curled up resting with a single eye open, glancing at Simon.

The timeless contest between dogs and cats is portrayed with mirth in Simon's New Bed written by Christian Trimmer with art by Melissa van der Paardt.  This is a book that needs to be shared not once but over and over again.  Cat and dog lovers and siblings will find much truth within these pages.

Please follow the links attached to Christian Trimmer's and Melissa van der Paardt's names to access their websites to learn more about them and their other work.  Christian Trimmer is a guest on author illustrator Debbie Ridpath Ohi's blog Inkygirl.com . More art by Melissa van der Paardt can be seen at her two other blogs here and here.  Interior art, including my favorite picture, can be found at the publisher's website.

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