Quote of the Month

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

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

A Fascinating Fellow To Follow . . . Again

There is a fine line in choosing to follow when curiosity beckons.  If we stay, we avoid possible pitfalls, but may miss out on a one-of-a-kind adventure.  If we go, we might be walking into a how-do-we-get-out-of-this disaster or we may experience complete joy.  There's really no predicting what will occur. 

If you happen to be a fearless feline like the one we met in Spot, the Cat (Little Simon, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division, March 1, 2016) conceived and illustrated by Henry Cole, there is no weighing of possible outcomes.  You go with gusto.  This cat is back in a companion title, Spot & Dot (Little Simon, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division, August 13, 2019).  It's an intricately designed wordless wonder introducing two new characters by Henry Cole.  It's a single story weaving through an entire city brimming with stories.

Spot, the cat, is stretching toward the open window from the back of his boy's chair.  He joins Spot at the window to watch a young girl, a new neighbor, post a lost pet sign.  The boy and girl don't know, but Spot has seen the runaway dog, Dot, and is in pursuit.

As the dog runs through the bustling Antique fair, Spot is not far behind.  When Dot hops on one of several city buses, the cat knows exactly which one to board.  The dog's nose knows a certain shop, Maxine's Bakery, is apt to have treats.  It's loads of fun to watch how people do or don't respond to the duo running through the bakery.

Meanwhile, back near Spot's and Dot's humans' homes, the boy and girl are working together, posting the lost dog flyers everywhere and asking people if they've seen her.  The boy has no idea Spot has vanished again.  At the dog park, Spot is closing the distance to Dot which is a miracle considering the chaos of dozens and dozens of dogs and their humans. They race from one venue to the next, one noisy and the other pleasantly quieter.

Discouraged the boy and his new friend climb the stairs to their respective homes.  Wait a minute! Two wayward pets complete their tour of the city and its multitude of occupants.  Two sets of new friends know home is the ultimate destination.

Eager readers know an escapade is in the offing as they watch Spot and Dot, strategically placed above their names in the title, race down the city street.  Each home in the row of houses, spread across the open and matching dust jacket and book case, offers additional tales of the residents, humans and animals.  Some notice the passing of Spot and Dot, wondering about their wandering.  Readers will enjoy running their hands over the dust jacket to feel the raised portions of the image and text.

On the opening and closing endpapers the purple color used for the street becomes a background.  Henry Cole begins this story without words on his title page with more of his highly intricate artwork.  Each fine line is carefully placed to portray a breathtaking whole.  Single page pictures from varying perspectives start the story building with a gentle tension, moving between the boy and girl and Spot chasing after Dot.  When the focus shifts to the dog and cat alone, readers find themselves dazzled by fabulous double-page illustrations. 

Each of these double-page visuals asks us to pause.  We peer in windows to see movers and painters working inside the neighbor's house, fish swim in two different bowls above the fish market and a dog wishing for the same freedom as he watches Spot race past his door.  In the Antique fair there are thousands of objects displayed by vendors.  The Hot Dog food truck seems to be where Dot is headed, but she's got more important things on her mind.

Readers will be fascinated by the banners hanging on the city buses advertising canine treats and treatments for fleas.  I can almost hear readers gasping when Dot enters the bakery.  You'll can almost smell the wondrous odors of pastries and fresh hot drinks in the air, but then you'll notice a cat running along the counter and a dog running behind the counter.  The expressions and body postures of every living thing, throughout the title, are completely captivating and convey the vibrant life through which this dog and cat are exploring.

One of my many, many favorite illustrations spans two pages.  Dot and Spot are scampering through the public library.  We see Spot entering on the left as Dog runs nearly off the page on the right.  The READ posters on the circulation desk feature dogs.  Many of the patrons are reading dog books.  One of the librarians is reading a dog book aloud for storytelling.  Some of the people don't even realize a cat and dog are present.  The facial features on others range from inquisitiveness to I can't believe what I am seeing.  The upholstery on the comfy chairs is spotted/dotted as is the fabric on a woman's skirt.

With the final three full-page pictures, readers will feel the same contentment seen on the faces of one cat and one dog and two humans in Spot & Dot by Henry Cole.  Stress which delicately built as the animal twosome moved through the city evaporates, but memories of their experiences linger.  This book stands alone wonderfully but pairing it with the first title is a perfect match.  I highly recommend this title for your personal and professional collections.

To learn more about Henry Cole and his other work, please visit his website by following the link attached to his name.  Henry Cole invites you to follow him on his Facebook account.  At the publisher's website you can view interior images from the beginning of the book.  They have also supplied three activity sheets.

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