Stone-faced dogs drolly demonstrate opposites through ambitious paper engineering.
Digitally rendered in a retro-modern style, simple unlined shapes make up each pup’s brightly colored body, complemented by patterned snouts, paws, and tails. Each dog is set against a vibrantly colored full-bleed background, but on some pages a motley collection of colors can be visually chaotic. If the book’s colors can be too bright, its pups can be too bland. When the dogs are interacting and not staring impassively ahead, they have abundant charm. A sweet embrace between the “front/back” canine buddies or the inversely patterned “right side up/upside down” pair who gaze at each other have just the right touch of heart, and it helps that those pages are also harmoniously colored. As a concept book, it offers a solid selection of oppositional pairs rendered concretely enough for young readers to understand the differences in the set. It also boasts innovative paper engineering, with a die-cut spotted dog that becomes a solidly colored pooch or an accordion fold that makes the long dog lengthy indeed. Its best pages play with the medium, with a flip that exchanges dogs from “inside” to “outside” a doghouse. Other flaps flop, coming immediately loose or wrinkling, and some have painfully sharp corners.
With some outstanding pages and others falling short, this is a book of opposites indeed. (Board book. 18 mos.-3)