Quote of the Month

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

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

To The Dogs #2

If you want to have a complete sensory experience, consider a canine companion.  Their heightened abilities will alert you to something long before it registers in your ears, eyes, or nose or before you venture to taste or touch it.  Dogs walk through their surroundings ready to react.  You learn to observe their every look, twitch of their nose, or swivel of their head.  When they stop, you need to stop.  

Sometimes, they are alerting you to something.  Sometimes, they are telling you about themselves.  In Hot Dog (Alfred A. Knopf, May 24, 2022) written and illustrated by Doug Salati, his first as both author and illustrator, a pup is collapsing under the weight of summer in the city.  Fortunately, his human finally understands.

City summer




A dog and his human make their way down city streets, she with a list of errands in her hand.  After their first stop, the dog is increasingly bombarded with a series of loud sounds compounded by the heat.  After visiting the third building, the pup is nearly frantic with sensory overload.

Unable to take another step, the dog stops right in the middle of the road.  The woman, awareness dawning, kneels down in the crosswalk, nose to nose with her furry friend.  Picking up the dog, she yells for a taxi.

From taxi to train and then to ferry, they get farther and farther away from the city and the heat.  They are closer and closer to a cool light wind and the salty scent of the sea.  They arrive at an island with tall grasses, long stretches of sandy beach and white foamy waves.  The dog runs in pure ecstasy.  

There are hours of digging, barking, shaking, sniffing, finding, rolling, and romping.  As the shadows lengthen, the pair enjoy the last rays of the sun and the soothing sound of the water washing on the shore.  Under the light of a moon, they make their way home retracing their previous path.  Cuddled together at their city apartment in their bed by a window, they fall asleep.  Can you guess what fills the dog's dreams?

Spare, vividly descriptive text written by Doug Salati draws us deeply and immediately into this narrative.  Two word alliterative phrases build toward a critical moment for the dog and his human.  As the story shifts, the phrases are longer; longing is replaced with a wondrous reward.  Concluding words lull readers, the pup, and his person into blissful dreams.  Here is another phrase.

sun sinks down, swallowed by the sea

On the front, right side of the open dust jacket, the dog is in a state of bliss, away from the heat of the city, cooled by the sea.  The closed eyes indicate a serene mental moment.  In its mouth is a found treasure from hours of digging.  To the left of the spine, on the back, on a canvas of sandy yellow is a picture of the dog looking t readers through their window in the city apartment.  A double window fan supplies relief for them in their home.  Beneath this image words by two-time Caldecott Medalist Sophie Blackall read:

"An utter joy from beginning to end!"

Across a hot orange background on the open book case is an extended scene from the book.  It is the point where the woman goes to her dog stopped in the crosswalk in the middle of the road.  They look into each other's eyes, nose to nose.  Lines of the crosswalk spread from left to right.  On the left, a pigeon flies away from a piece of half-eaten pizza and a paper plate on the crosswalk.  Traffic sounds in a variety of fonts spread across the book case.  This is a tender moment with the woman holding the dog's mouth and nose in her hand and a raised paw in her other hand.

In shades of reddish pink, the dog is drawn in numerous poses on the open and closing endpapers,  In only one of the poses is it completely colored.  The filled-in pose is different on each set of endpapers.  On the title page, we see the dog in the apartment window.  Its back is to us.  This is a reversal of the viewpoint from the back of the dust jacket.  On the verso the dog and his human are leaving their apartment building

These full-color illustrations 

created using a combination of pencil and gouache on paper and Photoshop

are placed like panels on pages (horizontally and vertically) with sketchy outlines for framing with white space making columns for text or fashioning space between two images on a single page. The pictures are highly animated and intricately detailed.  At times people will be only sketches on the edges of illustrations.  Prior to the duo leaving for the beach, there are a lot of warm colors in the city settings to indicate the heat and the frustration the pup is feeling.  For dramatic effect, there are several single-page pictures, edge to edge.

Once the pals get to the sea, the borders are loose and indicative of breezes.  There are six pages of wordless pictures of all sizes which speak volumes.  You want to cheer for this dog and his woman.  She loves that the dog is loving the beach.  As they return to the city, the framing is a blend of the hot day visuals and the breezy sea images.  Careful readers will notice one new item the woman is carrying home.  It is a promise.

One of my many favorite illustrations is a single-page picture, edge to edge.  It is after the woman stops in the crosswalk in the middle of the street to kneel down to her dog.  In this image on a hot orange-red background with yellow radiating lines, the woman stands, her one arm raised as she cries


Her large straw hat and large blue-rimmed glasses frame her face and hair, hair the same color as the dog's fur.  In her other arm she carries her pup, yellow leash dangling down.  The dog is wide-eyed and smiling.  

At times all individuals are overwhelmed by their surroundings and current situation.  This is when it is time to take a break.  In Hot Dog written and illustrated by Doug Salati, two friends find solace by the sea.  Renewed they return to the city, ready to sleep and ready for their next adventure.  I highly recommend this book for both your personal and professional collections.  The words and illustrations provide a partnership as perfect as that between the dog and the woman.

To learn more about Dog Salati and his other work, please follow the link attached to his name to access his website.  Doug Salati has an account on Instagram.  At the publisher's website, you can view interior images.  Doug Salati and this title are showcased by Julie Danielson at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.  There is process art and final art as well.

Dogs like humans have distinctive personalities and characteristics.  After time spent together, you begin to understand them and they begin to understand you.  You, as a human, come to accept there are things you will never change about your dog.  You, also, realize they have wisdom beyond your capabilities.  The thing is, this wisdom is not always applicable to a human's world.  With over-the-top hilarity in words and pictures, author Dev Petty and illustrator Mike Boldt bring us Don't Eat Bees (Life Lessons from Chip the Dog)(Doubleday Books For Young Readers, May 31, 2022).  This dog is all dog.

I am a smart dog.
I am only 7, but that is practically
50 in person years, so I already know
several important dog things.

To begin, Chip relays his opinions on cats and litter boxes, burying bones, and the unbelievable array of dog sizes and shapes.  He then shifts to his most favorite thing in the world, eating.  He loves chewing socks, but advises to avoid bees.

Paper, especially homework by his younger human, is one of his delectable delights.  It keeps them with him longer when they have to redo their work.  He also loves the Thanksgiving turkey. (Or is it the chase?) At all costs, he reminds us to avoid bees.

Grandpa's teeth are tasty.  So is the cat's food.  In fact, there is not much that Chip won't consume, except for bees and a couple of other yucky things, like fire.

By now you might be wondering why Chip is so persistent about not eating bees.  It is a secret secret which this writer will not reveal.  And of course, the cat is seeking revenge for the loss of its food as the comedic conclusion unfolds.  Oh, Chip!

Told from Chip's point of view, this story penned by Dev Petty is laugh-out-loud funny from beginning to the end.  Chip's initial claim of being smart followed by his commentary and logic is a constant cause of giggles and grins.  Dev Petty's use of do and don't and a pro tip create a rhythm as the narrative is read.  It invites us to keep turning the pages, so we can keep laughing.  Here is a passage.

Do: Eat the cat food.
Just because you can.
Who's a dumb dog
now, Mittens?

Not me.
I don't eat bees.

How can you look at the front, right side, of the open and matching dust jacket and book case without laughing?  Wide-eyed Chip who loves to eat everything is seriously thinking about gulping down the bee buzzing around him.  The dotted yellow line indicating the path of the bee appears whenever Chip mentions not to eat bees.

On the back, to the left of the spine, on a turquoise canvas is a retro menu of 


Since 7 Years Ago

Under the headings of appetizers, entrees, and dessert are listed those items Chip mentions loving to eat in the story.  Paw prints appear on the menu and as part of the menu heading.  In true Chip fashion, the lower, left-hand corner of the menu has been bitten off.  The ISBN is part of the menu.

Above a flower-covered field along the bottom of the opening and closing endpapers is a wide blue sky dotted with fluffy clouds.  The clouds are not the same on each set of endpapers.  In a different path on each set of endpapers is the yellow dotted line of a bee's path.  This path continues on the verso and title pages.  Chip, on the left, eyes the bee with extreme caution as it flies toward a flower on the right.

These lively, humorous pictures by Mike Boldt are placed on a variety of backgrounds and make excellent use of white space.  Most are single-page pictures, but for dramatic effect (and maximum hilarity), there are five double-page pictures.  The facial expressions, the eyes, and body postures like Chip's pointing paw add to the comedy.  

The placement of Chip on the page and his size in the scene further contribute to the fun and funniness of this book.  When Chip is speaking about Mitten and the litter box, all we see of Chip is the upper part of his head along the bottom of the page, looking up as the cat walks away from the smelly box.  When Chip is running away with the Thanksgiving turkey, we are privy to the entire chaotic event of the table tipping, chairs falling, dishes crashing to the floor, and adult arms reaching toward Chip as he scampers away on the right of this two-page image.

One of my many favorite illustrations is a single-page picture on a bright yellow canvas.  Chip is front and center with a tilted head.  He is wearing a goofy grin exaggerated by the presence of Grandpa's false teeth.  We see Chip's head and a small portion of his upper body.  Around him, laughing are the daughter, Grandpa, and the mother.  The daughter is hugging her stomach.  Grandpa is crying, he is laughing so hard.  And the mother is holding her phone, either because she has taken a picture or will take one soon.  Chip's eyes are crossed.

Whether you are a dog person or not, everyone loves to laugh.  This book, Don't Eat Bees (Life Lessons from Chip the Dog) written by Dev Petty with illustrations by Mike Boldt is so funny, you know parts or all of it are probably true. (I don't dare take my dog anywhere a bee might be.  As we take our morning walks, if a bug comes near her she snaps it right out of the air and swallows it.)  You'll want to add this title to your personal and professional collections to hear the sound of laughter ringing out as you read it.

To learn more about Dev Petty and Mike Boldt and their other work, including their previous collaborations, please follow the link attached to their names to access their websites.  Dev Petty has accounts on Instagram and Twitter.  Mike Boldt has accounts on Instagram, Twitter, Vimeo, and YouTube.  At the publisher's website, you can view interior images.  John Schu interviews both Dev Petty and Mike Boldt about this book on his blog, Watch. Connect. Read.  Dev Petty stops by author Tara Lazar's blog, Writing for Kids (While Raising Them), to chat about writing this book.

UPDATE:  Dev Petty is a guest author at the Nerdy Book Club, July 12, 2022, in a post titled The Space Between: Why Humor Matters in the Dark.  This title is part of the discussion.

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