When two animals come face to face unexpectedly, the results are hard to predict. If they are both living in the wild, one might become a meal for the other. If one shares their life with humans and the other is wild, it's guaranteed for a split second time will be frozen as they stand and stare at each other. Then curiosity and instincts will quickly assume control.
When curiosity and instincts rule, observers can sometimes witness magic. From the adept minds and hands of author Emily Jenkins and illustrator Chris Appelhans we get to hold this very thing in our hands and experience it again and again. A Greyhound A Groundhog (Schwartz & Wade, an imprint of Random House Children's Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, January 3, 2017) is a tongue-twisting, exuberant read, silently or aloud.
A round hound.
A round hog.
With the introductions made, we are further acquainted with the pair through elaborations on their physical characteristics; little and brown respectively. Do you think the greyhound is a puppy? As the groundhog waddles from his hole, the dog takes notice. Let the chase begin!
The twosome runs and runs; first the hound is after the hog. Then the hog tries to catch the hound. They make a swirl of grey and brown as they go around and around and around. They cover a lot of ground going around and around.
First comes, greyhound, then comes groundhog and then they are running side by side. Whew! I'm getting tired just reading about all this fun on the run. Wait! What's that? They stop and stare at wings of beauty.
They're off again leaving the field for a new terrain. One thing is certain. This duo knows how to find joy in the moment and make it last.
Twenty words, not counting a, and and the are moved from place to place within two word statements and the final, wonderfully paced nineteen word sentence. Emily Jenkins designs an enticing rhythm which rolls right off your tongue...if you're lucky. The narrative these words fashion could not be more delightful; two beings meeting for the very first time and turning it into a rollicking romp. Here are several other wonderful phrases.
A greyhound, a groundhog,
a found little
Around, round hound.
Admit it! When you first look at the matching dust jacket and book case, you can feel a smile forming. The majestic stance of the greyhound next to the grinning groundhog is our first clue as to how their meeting will unfold. To the left, on the back, illustrator Chris Appelhans gives us the same stance but the back view. On the dust jacket the characters and title text are varnished. Even on the left flap the groundhog peeking from his hole is varnished. The opening and closing endpapers are in a pale, dusty blue. On the title page paw prints of both animals move across the lower portion of the page.
Rendered in watercolor and pencil each image and the elements within it are delicately depicted on a canvas of pristine white. This liberal use of white draws us toward the text and pictures. Initially the words are on one page and the characters on the opposite page. This is perfect pacing as they are next shown together before the text swirls around the action of the playful pals.
Appelhans's lines are superb in the motion shown. By the facial expressions we know these two are having the time of their lives; the dog's tongue hanging from its mouth and an open-mouthed grin on the groundhog. And yet, when the greyhound and the groundhog see beauty, they freeze. I love that!
One of my many favorite illustrations is for the bottom two phrases noted above. It spans two pages, like most of the pictures. Lines of blue, pink and purple spring from the bottom representing grasses and flowers. On the left the groundhog is running on two legs. You can almost hear him laughing. He is chasing after the greyhound in full run, tongue hanging out from his mouth. The greyhound stretches from half of the left side, crosses the gutter and the nose heads toward the right edge of the page. You can't help but wish you were running with them.
A Greyhound A Groundhog written by Emily Jenkins with illustrations by Chris Appelhans is utterly charming and filled with word play and pure play. I highly recommend you share it with readers and listeners. Be sure to place a copy on your professional and personal bookshelves.
To learn about both Emily Jenkins and Chris Appelhans and their other work, visit their websites by following the links attached to their names. If you want to get a sneak peek at some of the interior, especially the dedication page, stop by the publisher's website. Chris Appelhans is interviewed at Let's Talk Picture Books about this title.