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SWIFT by Robert J. Blake

SWIFT

By Robert J. Blake (Author) , Robert J. Blake (Illustrator)

Age Range: 5 - 8

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-399-23383-8
Publisher: Philomel

Swift is a working dog, who helps Johnnie’s Pa hunt and stay safe in the woods. One day, Johnnie finally gets to join in on a bear hunt. Things quickly go awry when a bear attacks and Pa breaks his leg badly; he tells Johnnie to take Swift and get help. The boy runs off in such a panic, he nearly goes over a cliff; luckily, Swift stops him. They get lost, the bear attacks and Swift comes to help. Johnnie nearly gives up when he falls into a frozen lake. However, though Swift is injured, he’s still intent on achieving his goal. The bear attacks again and Johnnie is able to save them both. Unconscious for some time, Johnnie later learns that Swift led folks to his Pa as well as rescuing Johnnie. While the story (based on tales learned while the author was staying with homesteaders in Alaska) is interesting and will appeal to youngsters looking for an adventure, the pictures are what stand out. Blake applies the paint very thickly in the illustrations, using so much color that the paintings look almost Impressionistic, though, the human faces don’t work as well as the incredibly expressive animal faces. Swift has a most noble countenance. Blake illustrates winter scenes but manages to make the snowy landscape full of color and vibrancy. He depicts a winter landscape both ominous and beautiful. (Picture book. 5-8)