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The Stray Dog: From a True Story by Reiko Sassa Hardcover – January 9, 2001
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"It was a great day for a picnic," begins Marc Simont's lovely, touching, happy-ending picture book, The Stray Dog. And indeed, judging from the opening spread's clear skies, sparkling water, zooming boats, and adventure-bound cars it looks to be so. The story begins as a scruffy little dog makes an appearance at a family's picnic. The children name him Willy, and by the end of the day they desperately want to take him home. The family drives away, but all week they can think of nothing but their new furry friend. They return to picnic at the same spot the very next week, much to Willy's good fortune--and that of the newly smitten family.
As in all the best illustrated children's books, Simont lets his pictures tell the story. We don't have to be told how wrenching it is for the kids to leave Willy behind--we see their small outstretched arms out the car window and the puppy watching them go. Simont doesn't have to tell us that the next Saturday the family is completely preoccupied with the possibility of another Willy sighting. We see the family, silent, munching, and just to the side is a plate of meat they've put out, just in case. Young readers will adore this simple tale of puppy love, but adults will be equally charmed. Simont illustrated his first book in 1939, and since then has illustrated nearly 100 titles, including the 1949 Caldecott Honor Book The Happy Day, by Ruth Krauss and Janice May Udry's A Tree Is Nice, winner of the 1957 Caldecott Medal. This book is our favorite so far of the year! (Ages 4 to 8) --Karin Snelson
From Publishers Weekly
In this slender but engaging volume, Caldecott Medalist Simont (A Tree Is Nice) retells and illustrates a true story told to him by a friend. Picnicking in the country, a family spies a friendly dog. The brother and sister play with him and even name him, but their parents will not let them take Willy back to their city home. "He must belong to somebody," their mother explains, "and they would miss him." Returning to the same spot the following weekend, they once again see Willy, this time being chased by a dog warden who deems him a stray: "He has no collar. He has no leash." In the tale's most endearing scene, the boy removes his belt and the girl her hair ribbon, which they identify to the warden as Willy's collar and leash: "His name is Willy, and he belongs to us." Simont's art and narrative play off each other strategically, together imparting the tale's humor and tenderness. The final scenes are simple gems of understatement and wit. "They took Willy home" accompanies a full-bleed picture of the children energetically and messily bathing the dog; "And after that... they introduced him to the neighborhood, where he met some very interesting dogs" captions a busy scene of a park full of pooches. A charmer. Ages 4-8. (Jan.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.