Quote of the Month

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

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Dressed For The Occasion

All you have to do is mention one word in the presence of a group of less than quiet kindergarten students and total silence will descend.  This magical word is Halloween.  To be truthful this calm lasts only about five seconds before the room explodes in a chorus of "Guess what I'm going to be for Halloween?"  The air is so thick with excitement you can reach out, grab some and store it away for another day.

Some of the attire is designed to be scary.  Other articles of clothing reflect the world of superheroes.  You realize on this one night of the year, the forces for good and those characters with less than stellar characteristics all walk together in solidarity.  Every last individual wants treats.  Pug & Pig Trick-or-Treat (Beach Lane Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division, July 25, 2017) written by Sue Lowell Gallion with illustrations by Joyce Wan celebrates a holiday, individuality and the strength of friendship.

This is Pug and Pig's home.

These two four-legged friends, outside the home they share with their humans, have other notable objects on display.  To commemorate the season there is a scarecrow and pumpkins next to their outside residence.  As they scamper across the lawn they appear ready for Halloween.  They are wearing skeleton costumes.

Pig is thrilled with her outfit.  The fit, the glow-in-the-dark bones and the mask could not be more perfect.  Pug can't stand his garment.  It is much too tight.  The mask hides his identity.  He wants everyone to know who he is.

Lickety-split Pug has that suit of bones ripped to shreds and lying scattered on the grass.  Pug may be happy with his current costume status but Pig is wondering who will share the joy of Halloween with her now.  Wait!  Pug's on the move again.

Affection for a friend can inspire creativity.  Mud might be a factor.  There's more than one way to highlight a holiday so everyone wins.

With short declarative sentences author Sue Lowell Gallion requests our presence in this story.  Once she introduces us to the characters again (Pug Meets Pig, September 27, 2016), she begins to create a contrast; a difference of opinion between the friends.  What makes this story shine is the inventiveness of Pug.  His compassion builds a bridge strengthening a bond.  Here are some sample sentences.

And this is Pug not
in costume.
Pug does not care
about Halloween anymore.

(page turn)

But someone else does.

The first thing you notice when you run your hands over the dust jacket is the raised elements on the two characters and the title text.  Portions are varnished.  In addition to the round, roly-poly stature of Pug and Pig you are curious about their expressions.  Why is one smiling and the other grumpy?  These images generate interest and speculation about the narrative.  On the back in the same color canvas are two small pumpkin-shaped buckets which the duo uses for trick-or-treating.  The book case is a match but without the extra touches.

The opening and closing endpapers are a continuation of the color scheme; purple background with orange dots ringed in black.  On the title page the text switches to white, two shades of yellow and orange.  Most of the page turns reveal double-page pictures.

When Joyce Wan shifts this pattern it's to place emphasis on a section of the story; Pig enjoying her costume, Pug not liking his costume, Pig filled with dismay opposite a white page with black text and two single pages which increase the pace.  Rendered in pencil and then colored digitally the perspective of the images also contributes to the cadence.  You simply can't look at these pictures without finding the characters endearing and the settings charming.  The details such as the spider webs and spiders, the jack-o-lantern faces, the BOO wreath on the door, the face on the scarecrow in the shape of a sunflower and those skeleton costumes will have readers and listeners sighing with pleasure.

One of my many favorite pictures is the first two-page spread.  On the left and crossing the gutter is the two story home, with two porches, of Pug and Pig and their humans.  The decorations on the outside indicate a love of Halloween.  Warm light glows in the windows.  On the right, over a picket fence, a full moon hangs in the sky with a few stars.  Pug and Pig are racing to the outside.  All we can see is their costumes, black bodies with white bones.  Fall leaves are scattered in the yard.

Be prepared to read Pug & Pig Trick-or-Treat written by Sue Lowell Gallion with art by Joyce Wan over and over again.  Readers and listeners are going to want to jump into the pages of this book to be a part of this story.  They might also want to hug these lovable characters.  It's a must-have for your professional and personal Halloween collections. 

To learn more about Sue Lowell Gallion and Joyce Wan and their other work, please follow the links attached to their names to access their websites.  At the publisher's website you can view interior images.  Sue Lowell Gallion is featured at PictureBookBuilders, Mid-Continent Public Library, Cynsations, and The Children's Book Review.  Joyce Wan maintains an Instagram account.  Joyce's most recent interviews of many are found at Scholastic's blog, On Our Minds, and The Little Crooked Cottage.    There is a Discussion and Activity Guide for grades PK-2 and a Halloween Party Kit!

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