Black Dog

( 2 )

Overview

An enormous black dog and a very tiny little girl star in this offbeat tale about confronting one’s fears.

When a huge black dog appears outside the Hope family home, each member of the household sees it and hides. Only Small, the youngest Hope, has the courage to face the black dog, who might not be as frightening as everyone else thinks.

Winner of the 2013 Kate...

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Overview

An enormous black dog and a very tiny little girl star in this offbeat tale about confronting one’s fears.

When a huge black dog appears outside the Hope family home, each member of the household sees it and hides. Only Small, the youngest Hope, has the courage to face the black dog, who might not be as frightening as everyone else thinks.

Winner of the 2013 Kate Greenaway Medal
A 2013 Boston Globe-Horn Picture Book Honor Winner

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
Children and adults will relish the details of Pinfold's very fine paintings, set in a magical never-time of old typewriters and wood-burning stoves and hand-painted furniture, in which people wear assorted kitchen equipment as hats on their heads.
—Pamela Paul
Publishers Weekly
Pinfold’s debut, The Django (2010), featured striking artwork, but lacked direction. His sophomore effort succeeds where the earlier work stumbled. Small Hope, the youngest member of her family, ventures outdoors one snowy morning to confront a monstrous black dog that’s been terrifying her parents and siblings. In a striking spread, Pinfold paints a tiny Small Hope gazing up at a dog the size of Mount Rushmore, its black snout looming malevolently. “Golly, you ARE big!” she says, unafraid. “What are you doing here, you guffin?” She takes off across the snowy ground with a rhyming taunt: “You can’t follow where I go,/ unless you shrink, or don’t you know?” The dog pursues Small Hope from spread to spread, shrinking as he goes, and the pair arrives home to find the rest of the family comically armed for battle with kitchen utensils. Pinfold’s interiors are crammed with quirky detail, and his small sepia vignettes, which cluster around the story’s text, are an elegant detail. More crucially, the story stays focused, the pacing is strong, and Small Hope is as charming as she is brave. Ages 4–7. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
Pinfold’s story has a timeless quality despite its entirely original flair, with sumptuous paintings and thumbnail embellishments adding narrative and descriptive content... A great pick for storytime, bedtime, anytime.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

An ode to scale, to the portholes and bay windows of Victorian architecture, the poetry of family chatter, and steampunk elegance of antique hot-water heaters, all are here for young eyes to luxuriate in and imagine that they are courageous Small with their family’s love shining down like rainbows. Fear, fun, and just dripping with beauty, this title will pair perfectly with Neil Gaiman’s The Wolves in the Walls.
—School Library Journal (starred review)

Pinfold’s lavish, Van Allsburg-like illustrations, which juxtapose tiny black-and-white sketches with big, detailed, frozen-in-time paintings, are quirky, funny, and often heart- stopping. Part David and Goliath, part Gingerbread Man, this UK import is a shot of courage for those who need it most.
—Booklist (starred review)

Pinfold’s interiors are crammed with quirky detail, and his small sepia vignettes, which cluster around the story’s text, are an elegant detail. More crucially, the story stays focused, the pacing is strong, and Small Hope is as charming as she is brave.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Children's Literature - Paula McMillen
The Hope family appears to live in a rather isolated house in the middle of the woods. One winter's day, a black dog comes to visit. When the father looks out the window, he sees a black dog the size of a tiger so he calls the police, who advise him not to go outside. As each successive member of the family spies the black dog, it seems to grow in size until it is the size of a "Big Jeffy" and, although we don't know what a Big Jeffy is, we DO know it is bigger than a Tyrannosaurus rex! Along comes the youngest member of the Hope family, Small Hope, who is totally unintimidated by the enormous animal and goes outside to meet the dog. She challenges the dog to catch her and leads it on a merry chase through woods, over ponds, under bridges, through the playground, and finally back home and through the cat flap in the back door. By that time, the dog has become normal sized and the family is happy to emerge from the furniture barricades they have erected and welcome him. This could of course be an allegory about confronting fear. Young children will be delighted to see that the smallest person can be the most courageous. Beautiful, detailed, and whimsical watercolors portray the rapidly growing dog and the rather eccentric family and house. Illustrations will reward careful scrutiny; even the toys seem terrified by the creature outside, and there is a mysterious small green octopus that appears in almost every view of the house's interior. Suitable for school, classroom or personal collections; alliterative passage will make it fun to read aloud or read along. Reviewer: Paula McMillen, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 1–6—This tale of fear grown wild will ignite the imaginations of many children. Like a thriller, it starts with a threat: a big black dog is outside. As each family member awakens and notices it, it grows as big as a Jeffy. (Look for clues of that beast in drawings strewn about the house.) Structured with outstandingly toned tempera paintings on one side, each family member color-coded and carefully wrought sepia vignettes interspersed with text reminiscent of the work of Shaun Tan on the other, the action advances quickly into a chase. Small, the youngest of the artistic family living in a vertical-gabled red house in an eerily green snow-covered forest, sees the dog for what it is-she calls the MacGuffin a guffin-but agrees he is BIG. She could fit in one of its nostrils! Small makes him catch her if he can. She taunts him down a size and makes him squeeze into a slide, under a footbridge. The visuals go cinemascope during the chase, but resume their structure when they enter the cat flap. An ode to scale, to the portholes and bay windows of Victorian architecture, the poetry of family chatter, and steampunk elegance of antique hot-water heaters, all are here for young eyes to luxuriate in and imagine that they are courageous Small with their family's love shining down like rainbows. Fear, fun, and just dripping with beauty, this title will pair perfectly with Neil Gaiman's The Wolves in the Walls (HarperCollins, 2003).—Sara Lissa Paulson, American Sign Language and English Lower School, New York City
Kirkus Reviews
Pinfold's story has a timeless quality despite its entirely original flair, with sumptuous paintings and thumbnail embellishments adding narrative and descriptive content. One by one, the Hope family spies a black dog outside their home, each person describing it as larger and more fearsome than the next. They all proceed to hide from the dog, until "the youngest member of the Hope family, called Small (for short)," steps outside to confront it herself. While her family cowers inside, Small bravely approaches the shaggy beast, who appears quite large indeed in the tempera paintings. A sense of folkloric magic underscores the confrontation as this youngest of three siblings cajoles the dog to follow her on a journey through the woods, under a bridge, over a frozen pond and through a playground. All along, she entreats it to shrink in size, and it does, until it is small enough to fit through a doggy door back at her house. Once they are inside, Small's family welcomes the dog and praises her bravery. "There was nothing to be scared of," she succinctly replies. The closing scene showing Small and the dog cozy by the fire, alongside a thumbnail portrait of the family by the text, leaves readers with a satisfying image of familial contentment. A great pick for storytime, bedtime, anytime. (Picture book. 3-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763660970
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 9/25/2012
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 185,295
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD530L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.80 (w) x 11.40 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Levi Pinfold’s first book, The Django, was long-listed for the Kate Greenaway Medal in the U.K. A wanderer at heart, Levi Pinfold lives in Brisbane, Australia.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 14, 2013

    I love the cover.  It is mysterious and intriguing, with it's so

    I love the cover.  It is mysterious and intriguing, with it's soft, hazy hues and old-style charm that makes you want to walk right into the scene and find out what this book is all about. 




    Levi Pinfold's illustrations are eerie and gothic feeling.  They are very detailed with subtle, muted colours.  The style is similar to Brett Helquist's illustrations in Lemony Snicket's " A series of Unfortunate Events."  The rich paintings adorn each page and you are invited in to have a peek at the old fashioned style of the Hope family's house - copper kettles, brass door knockers etc. that ooze warmth and coziness and say welcome to our home. 




    The Hope family has a HUGE problem.  One day Mrs. Hope looks outside and spies a big black dog the size of a tiger....she is terribly frightened.  As each family member glances through the window, the size of the dog escalates, as does their fears towards the potentially menacing beast outside their door. 




    Small, the tiniest member of the family calls them all "sillies" and ventures outside to put their fears to rest.  The size comparison between the little girl and the huge dog evokes doubt in the readers mind as to whether her approaching this canine is really a good idea.  But confident and fear-free, Small is determined to show her family that the black dog is not there to harm them and that their worries and anxieties are irrational and unnecessary.  Black Dog proves to be not one of their worst nightmares but a tribute to what can transpire when you face your fears, cast them aside and finally conquer them.  Small Hope certainly proves to be the bravest member of her family , "Golly you ARE big!" she says to him with child-like wonder and respect.  "What are you doing here guffin?" Small teases the dog as she walks across the snowy ground encouraging him to follow her! "You can't follow where I go, /unless you shrink, or don't you know?"  The monstrous, humungous Black Dog does follow her and in so doing shrinks, and shrinks, and shrinks to normal size. 




    This modern day fairy tale is a visual treat.  It is about fear and overcoming that fear.  If you have a child that is afraid of monsters or things that go bump in the night then this is the perfect story to share with him/her.  I loved the fact that the smallest, most insignificant member of the family had the courage and power to overcome and overturn this huge, scary problem that was presented to their family. Quite a David and Goliath tale.  I loved everything about the book. 

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  • Posted August 4, 2013

    Breathtaking illustrations. Wonderful storyline.

    Breathtaking illustrations. Wonderful storyline.

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