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SCOUT by Gordon McMillan


by Gordon McMillan & illustrated by Gordon McMillan

Age Range: 3 - 5

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-58536-797-9
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

A dog searches for his lost ball and finds friends in this pedestrian tale.

Scout is a Scottie dog who lives on the top floor of a high-rise. To find his toy, he explores the building and encounters a feline, fish and hamster who each boast that their attributes are better than the ball’s. When the toy is found with a confused mouse (it thinks the ball is cheese), comparisons are made, play ensues and friendships form. The closing gag demonstrates that a bouncy ball continues to be a magnet that serves to bring animals together. It's a good idea, yet uninspired in its telling. The animals’ alliterated names feel trite, and the skills they vaunt seem unrelated to their species (the cat can bounce higher, the fish's bowl is rounder, and the hamster can run faster, for instance). McMillan’s digital illustrations have a simple, graphic style done in an almost monochromatic palette. There are moments of impact, especially in his exterior shots of the building. One shows a lone Scout looking out a top-floor window during the day, and another shows all the animals on their respective floors, looking out their windows at night—a road map to Scout’s adventure and newfound friends. Unfortunately, these moments don’t outweigh the mundane spreads filled with characters that feel stamped out, with only scale or location changed.

An enthusiastic effort, but with lackluster results. (Picture book. 3-5)