Jahn-Clough's (My Friend and I) tale of two lost souls who bring newfound happiness to each other's lives may be familiar, but through her minimalist text and symbolic imagery, the book will likely resonate with readers long after the last page. At the story's core is Little Dog, an Everyman figure in search of warmth and compassion in the big city. Size and color play equally important roles; lofty gray buildings and shadowy looming figures threaten to overshadow Little Dog's dreams. Like the furry hero, an artist named Rosa also lacks color in her life, as the author succinctly notes ("Her paintings were sad and dark"). When the two finally meet and form a fast friendship, their lives suddenly fill with love, and Rosa's artwork undergoes a magical transformation. Woman and dog depart the city in favor of brightly colored flowers and trees; when they return to their dwelling, "everything looked different." And indeed where once there were brownstones now stand pi ata-bright row houses. Rosa's palette, too, transforms from muddy colors to one akin to Matisse. Little Dog's love has truly colored her world. Ages 4-8. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Living on the street, Little Dog is hungry, tired, and missing love. One day during a festival he slips into Rosa's art gallery where he is fed, bathed, and put to bed. Rosa, who has welcomed him, has always painted sad, dark paintings. But Little Dog leads her out of the city to the countryside of trees and flowers. She paints there while he frolics. Back home again everything looks different to Rosa and her paintings change. They become bright and cheerful, with Little Dog in every one. There is a happy ending for them both. The paintings that tell the visual tale have a child-like innocence. Characters and landscapes are almost crudely drawn; the cityscape is bleak and without detail. Little Dog is similarly simply depicted, with a heavy black outline and mustard yellow-brown coat. Like the people, he is essentially a flat shape yet very animated and full of expression. The countryside is exuberantly colorful with huge flowers and fluttering butterflies; the sunset is a huge fireworks display. 2006, Walter Lorraine/Houghton Mifflin Company, Ages 4 to 8.
—Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
PreS-K-Little Dog is hungry for both food and love. He's an outcast, ignored in the streets, and he gets little attention from festival-goers in the city. What he does have is a lot of spunk and hope. Rosa is an artist who has food to eat and love to give but not much in the way of hope: her paintings are dim and dreary. She might dress in bright colors, but she only notices and paints the dull ones. Worlds collide in the best possible way in this innocent and affectionate story. The boldly painted illustrations framed in heavy black line reflect the changing moods of the characters. A gentle fable about the benefits of friendship.-Susan Weitz, formerly at Spencer-Van Etten School District, Spencer, NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
An abandoned pooch transforms an artist's bleak perspective. Spurned by strangers, a downtrodden but persevering pup holds on to his hopefulness until a fateful encounter with an artist named Rosa. As a friendship blooms between artist and dog, Rosa realizes that she needs a new palette to reflect the joy she has discovered. A journey out of the town provides the inspiration she needs as the duo explore a countryside bursting with color and life. When Rosa and Little Dog return to town, they discover that the previously somber environs have been revitalized as well. Jahn-Clough's heavily pigmented paintings effectively reflect the shifting emotional elements of the tale as the artist and dog make the journey from desolation to joy. But while an effective allegory for the illuminative possibilities of love and friendship, the foreboding nature of the illustrations, combined with the simplicity of the text, make this an awkward fit for either very young or older readers. (Picture book. 4-8)
From the Publisher
"The minimal text is accompanied by simple, childlike artwork, framed in and accented by heavy, black brush strokes. The thickly painted colors change as the story progresses, from dark and somber to dazzling, which illustrates the transformation in the characters’ lives. Children will revel in the joy Little Dog and Rosa derive from one another."—Booklist Booklist, ALA
"...Through her minimalist text and symbolic imagery, the book will likely resonate with readers long after the last page." Publishers Weekly
Lisa Jahn-Clough has written and illustrated a number of books for young children, including Alicia Has a Bad Day, My Friend and I, Missing Molly, Simon and Molly Plus Hester, and On the Hill, as well as her debut young adult novel Country Girl, City Girl. She is the chair of the illustration program at Maine College of Art and also teaches at the Vermont College Writing for Children and Young Adults program. She lives in Portland, Maine.