This picture-book debut from a New Yorker cartoonist presents a child and a dog and their escapades while fishing.
The narrative is mostly wordless, although the alphabet does take center stage. A controlled palette of aquamarine, black, and white heightens both contrast and surprise when the child reels in a red “F,” even as readers and the dog see a huge, menacing “C” emerging from the depths. After pulling in the “I” and “S,” the child’s dragged down into a vortex of scarlet “H”s. The mission’s finally accomplished, but a squall of “B”s and the sharklike tips of “A”s force the child to relinquish the entire haul. The clean pen-and-watercolor panels and spreads are by turn humorous and dramatic. Children will enjoy following the dog’s storyline as much as the child’s; in fact, it is the canine’s quiet efforts that ultimately lead to a red-letter day. The conclusion (foreshadowed before the title page) reveals a larger story. Although the pair was trolling for the letters in “fish,” it was apparently done to help nearby race organizers correct their incomplete “finish”-line sign—and conclude the competition. The child has short, textured black hair and is hoisted at the end of the story by a pair of runners depicted ambiguously enough to allow readers to see a biracial set of parents, possibly same-sex.
A full-bodied story with an economy of style, this will be particularly rewarding for emerging readers. (Picture book. 3-7)