Pinfold’s story has a timeless quality despite its entirely original flair, with sumptuous paintings and thumbnail embellishments adding narrative and descriptive content.
One by one, the Hope family spies a black dog outside their home, each person describing it as larger and more fearsome than the next. They all proceed to hide from the dog, until “the youngest member of the Hope family, called Small (for short),” steps outside to confront it herself. While her family cowers inside, Small bravely approaches the shaggy beast, who appears quite large indeed in the tempera paintings. A sense of folkloric magic underscores the confrontation as this youngest of three siblings cajoles the dog to follow her on a journey through the woods, under a bridge, over a frozen pond and through a playground. All along, she entreats it to shrink in size, and it does, until it is small enough to fit through a doggy door back at her house. Once they are inside, Small’s family welcomes the dog and praises her bravery. “There was nothing to be scared of,” she succinctly replies. The closing scene showing Small and the dog cozy by the fire, alongside a thumbnail portrait of the family by the text, leaves readers with a satisfying image of familial contentment.
A great pick for storytime, bedtime, anytime. (Picture book. 3-7)