by Levi Pinfold
Interests: dogs, animals, courage, family, strong girlsTemplar Books/Candlewick Press: 2011
Also by this author/illustrator: The Django
The Hope family gets up one morning to discover a stray, black dog outside their home. As each member of the family sees it, his size grows larger and larger, through their own fear and lively imagination. They cower fearfully from the massive beast, only the smallest of all, Small Hope, dares to go outside to see it up close. “You’re all sillies,” she proclaims. The dog is indeed very, very large, but Small leads it on a merry chase, forcing it to squeeze through smaller and smaller spaces until it has shrunk down to a more manageable size. At which point they both squeeze into the house through the cat flap and the Hope family acquires a lovely new pet.
The illustrations alone should hook you on this book (see below), but it’s also a marvellous read and should entertain a great variety of ages. The smallest will love the big dog and Small’s pluck, the next-to-smallest will giggle at the cowardice of the older siblings and parents, and kindergarten kids will appreciate the theme of facing your fears. Grade 1’s and 2’s will be intrigued by the small sepia sketches showing the dog outside at the beginning, and how he becomes larger as each member of the family exaggerates his size. A nice subtext here about how your fears can be made larger or smaller by how you yourself define them.
The illustrations are captivating and the book is beautifully designed. The cluttered house holds many interesting objects and recurring figures, including clues as to what a “Big Jeffy” could be. I also loved the effect of switching to full two-page panoramas when Small goes outdoors! (see 3rd illustration below)
A charming, gorgeous picture book which richly deserves its Greenaway Medal. Highly recommended.