Quill and Quire

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This Is the Dog

by Sheryl McFarlane, Chrissie Wysotski, illus

A rambunctious puppy is on the loose in this tale and his beach-side neighbourhood is in for one wild day. As he races from one bad-dog scenario to another, this pup’s out-of-control antics will delight young dog lovers and those who have heard and responded to the call of the wild themselves.

This genuine picture book relies on illustrations as well as words for its integrity and success. Working with a text of 208 words by Sheryl McFarlane (winner of the 1992 National IODE Book Award for Waiting for the Whales), illustrator Chrissie Wysotski tackles her first picture book with confidence. In mostly double-page spreads, she enthusiastically takes the retriever-like pup through its dancing, running, leaping, slinking, and sleeping paces.

This Is the Dog understands its target audience. The plot is fast-paced and full of taboos. The rhyming text recalls the rhythm – though not the cumulation – of “This Is the House That Jack Built.” Primary colours abound, as do details of a young child’s world, including sand pails and shovels, bunny slippers, and rubber duckies. Food features prominently – splashing, spilling, splatting, and squirting in a vicariously satisfying way. And although there are lots of startled and irate adults and an eventual comeuppance that brings the pup to heel, the conclusion echoes Where the Wild Things Are’s classic reassurance about home and hearth. The cookie-thief cover and find-the-matching-dog end papers are further attractions.