A child overcomes her fear of dogs—and finds that even small steps forward can be big.
At the park, Lizzie happily busies herself chasing butterflies and tiptoeing around the fountain’s edge, until she realizes she’s close to a dog. Wonderfully composed illustrations perfectly place the silhouette of a seemingly large canine in the foreground, while the rosy-cheeked white child is frozen midstep, her anxiety clear. However, gentle Cecile turns out to be a well-mannered (and quite adorable) pooch of small stature. The dog’s benevolent owner, a white-bearded older gentleman, also white, encourages Lizzie to pat Cecile, and when she accomplishes this feat, the two recognize that it was “A small thing, but big.” And so the little girl, with her black hair enchantingly tied up in two topknots, goes from tentatively walking beside Cecile to holding her leash to walking Cecile around the park by herself. This proud moment is delightfully depicted in a spontaneous, simplified drawing style. The artwork, done using linotype prints and digital manipulation in a warm, pastel palette, invites readers to explore the lovely park environment with Lizzie. Parents will also appreciate the artist’s inclusion of Lizzie’s mother in various spreads, acknowledging her approval of Lizzie’s interactions. Johnston’s economical text about conquering fears also focuses on finding the good in each dog and in the small actions of all.
Hooper’s charming illustrations make Lizzie’s brave walk an absolute delight. (Picture book. 3-8)