Ralph, an intrepid dog in Williams Harbour, Labrador, has an adventure with a helicopter.
Paddon’s lively yarn, which he insists is true, nonetheless has tall-tale potential not just in its subject matter, but also in its delivery, which has a rhyming, singsong cadence reminiscent of ages-old oral storytelling. Rhyming narratives can be tricky to pull off—often falling into the cutesy crevasse—but this one is freshly exuberant and absolutely needs to be read aloud for full effect. Greg, a white helicopter bush pilot, hates landing in Williams Harbour because a pack of dogs—Ralph, Spot 1, Spot 2, Lucky, and Nance—all jump around the chopper, and Greg is fearful they will damage it. One day, seeing his chance, Greg uses the chopper to herd four of the dogs off a small 10-foot cliff into the sea (where they safely swim to shore). But where is Ralph, the fifth dog? Ah, where indeed—this is the crux of the story. Kolano’s crisp illustrations capture the spareness of the isolated Canadian town in both her sophisticated use of a limited palette of blues, blacks, and orange and in her angular, clean style, which gives the story a needed visual edge to balance the ebullient curviness of the narrative rhyme.
A fresh and charming narrative reminiscent of the tall-tale storytelling tradition with illustrations that are its ideal complement. (Picture book. 3-8)