Quote of the Month

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

Monday, June 13, 2016

Consummate Canine Companion

A word was never spoken but she, with the sixth sense they all possess, knew.  If I would quietly close a book with tears streaming down my face or sob when watching a movie, she would move as close to me as possible.  Her body would absorb the sadness; perhaps she would offer me a quick kiss of reassurance.  When this strength is missing from your life, this unconditional love, this flawless friendship, you feel it keenly.

Never is having this relationship more important than when tragedy strikes.  Their ability to bring comfort, peace and a glimmer of happiness to your soul when there is none is uncanny.  The Perfect Dog (Crown Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House Children's Books, May 31, 2016) speaks to seeking the one dog above all others who will be your best buddy...forever.

My parents said
we could get a dog.

And I know the perfect

It's obvious this girl has been waiting a very long time for a pooch pal to become a part of her family.  She has a mental checklist ready.  We are fortunate to get the inside scoop as she examines more than twenty kinds of canines.

Size is carefully considered, as are all attributes, in a series of three comparisons until it might be too much;

The perfect dog should be big...
Maybe not this 

Hair length (fur) is of vital concern especially when it comes to upkeep.  Will the dog communicate in an appropriate manner?  Will he or she drool excessively?  Will a bow tie suffice or will an extensive wardrobe be necessary?

For some dogs you might need to be an Olympian; their exercise needs are off the charts.  With these expectations in mind it's time to make a selection.  Two new prospects are presented.  Dogs will be dogs.

With comedy radiating from every page, Kevin O'Malley reveals not only an enormous sense of humor but a sure knowledge of dog behavior and traits. The rhythm generated with an adjective, a comparative and superlative asks readers to participate.  When O'Malley switches it up four times, it invites us to shift the beat and pause.  It makes the twists great...greater...greatest!

Rendered in ink on Graphics 360 paper with a Hunt nib and colored in Photoshop the illustrative fun created by Kevin O'Malley begins on the matching dust jacket and book case.  The eight dogs featured along with the young girl on the front are all wearing animated looks.  One is chewing a letter in the title text, two are tugging on a stick, a third is cross-eyed from the letter t resting on its nose and a smaller dog is leaning on the back of a larger dog.  These dogs are ready to run.  To the left, on the back, is a dog dish holding some toys.  A leash and a dog bone are part of the design.  Nine tiny circular dog portraits run along the spine.

On the opening and closing endpapers twenty-four dogs appear within round, overlapping frames of varying sizes.  Each is labeled correctly.  O'Malley's depictions are full of get-up-and-go.  On the title page the text is wrinkled as if it's a piece of fabric being tugged by the dog below it. The verso text is within a circle; a leash is hanging on the fine black-line frame with a dog dish beneath it.

Pale backgrounds provide a canvas for the comparisons which are placed on single pages or in groups of four over two pages.  The facial expressions on the girl are hilarious.  The dogs are most definitely loving every single minute in her presence.  O'Malley's font styles are a direct reflection of the observations.

One of my favorite series of illustrations is for the words fast, faster, fastest and maybe not this fast.  Each of the words looks like they are moving in a blur.  At first the girl is walking along, then she is jogging, then all we see is a portion of her arm on the left holding the leash as a greyhound streaks across the page and finally she is completely horizontal as another unseen dog pulls her to the right.

As a read aloud The Perfect Dog written and illustrated by Kevin O'Malley encourages listeners to join in the narrative.  The laughter supplied in the text and images is contagious.  You can expect this to be popular with dog lovers and others who enjoy a playful romp in the realm of language.

To learn more about Kevin O'Malley please visit his website by following the link attached to his name.  At two publishers' websites you can view different interior images from this title here and here.  Kevin O'Malley is showcased in an article about this book in The Baltimore Sun.


  1. How did I miss this one, dog lover that I am?? Thanks for the recommendation, Margie!! Can't wait to read it! :)

    1. It's a cute one, Maria. I really think you are going to like it. The images are adorable and funny.