An Israeli painter can’t muster inspiration for his job, but he gets unexpected help.
The mayor wants Shmulik to paint a mural and decorate the town park for Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day. Holding his stylized, curvy arms so his hands meet at his chin, Shmulik looks honored and humbled. His studio’s a cheerful mess of paintings—on the floor, on an easel, propped behind sinks—and one dog bed holding a smiling, white, long-snouted dachshund. Each day, Shmulik means to begin the public-art project; each day, he lacks inspiration and looks at the clouds or buys a challah instead. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Shmulik, Ezra the wiggly dachshund—wearing orange-rimmed glasses and a diamond-patterned sweater—is hard at work. Ezra completes the project, and the fest is a success. Though Rose’s text is little better than workmanlike, Echeverri playfully offsets color (Shmulik’s multicolored, daub-textured jacket; his rosy pink cheeks; Ezra’s paint everywhere) with black and white (a softly nubbed gray rug; plants; Shmulik’s pants and hat). One face on the finished mural is brown, though the entire festival crowd is white. A shop sign in Hebrew and the mayor’s Hebrew thank you to Shmulik place the town in Israel. Rose never explains Yom Ha’Atzmaut; the holiday is simply present as a premise, implying an audience familiar with Israeli culture and history.
Visually dynamic; textually functional. (Picture book. 3-7)