Crockett Johnson’s Harold and Purple Crayon (1955) is a fruitful progenitor, and this descendent gleefully incorporates three distinct visual styles.
Dog’s enthusiasm hasn’t diminished since he opened his bookstore in Dog Loves Books (2010). He leans down from a ladder, handing a book to a customer, then perches atop a stack of books while reading a book with a book open on top of his head. One floppy ear pokes out, and his face shows bliss. The visual style is mild and happy, with black sketched lines deftly conveying emotion and soft colors filling them in. Then a parcel arrives containing a blank sketchbook, and everything changes. Dog draws a door, steps through it and draws a stickman for company in that blank-paged world. Lickety-split, Dog and the stickman are doodle-creating squiggles and more characters (duck, crab, owl). Adventures ensue: train and boat rides, a desert island, a scary monster and a mad dash home. Three aesthetics mingle: the gentle black lines of Dog himself, with his bookstore’s watery colors; a doodling style inside the sketchbook-world, which, though less visually interesting, is sweetly childlike; and a lusciously realistic portrayal of art supplies. Never have pencils, brushes and even a pencil sharpener beckoned so temptingly, from opening endpapers to closing (make sure to check both).
Dog makes it easy to share his passions. (Picture book. 3-7)