The Stray Dog

( 9 )

Overview

When a little dog appears at a family picnic, the girl and boy play with him all afternoon, and they name him Willy. At day's end they say good-bye. But the dog has won their hearts and stays on their minds.

The following Saturday the family returns to the picnic grounds to look for Willy, but they are not alone — the dogcatcher is looking for him, too...

Caldecott Medalist Marc Simont's heartwarming tale of a...

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Overview

When a little dog appears at a family picnic, the girl and boy play with him all afternoon, and they name him Willy. At day's end they say good-bye. But the dog has won their hearts and stays on their minds.

The following Saturday the family returns to the picnic grounds to look for Willy, but they are not alone — the dogcatcher is looking for him, too...

Caldecott Medalist Marc Simont's heartwarming tale of a stray dog who finds a home is told with appealing simplicity and grace.

A 2002 Caldecott Honor Book

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Caldecott medalist Marc Simont proves once again that he is the quintessential children's storyteller with his latest effort, The Stray Dog. Simont borrows from a true story and turns it into a delightful and beguiling tale of one family's adventures with a stray dog they encounter in a park. While picnicking in the country, this city-living family finds and plays with a dog they name Willy. Thinking the dog might belong to someone, they leave it behind when it's time to return home. But the entire family thinks about him throughout the week to come. When they return the following weekend and find Willy again roaming the park -- this time with the dogcatcher in hot pursuit -- they claim Willy as their own and bring him home.

Simont's tale is a deceptively understated and heartwarming story of love, giving, and family -- a family whose definition and makeup is subject to change. There's plenty of humor to be found, too, primarily in Simont's beguiling and splashy watercolor illustrations where the subtleties ignored in the text spring to life. The front fly page is a good example, boasting a simple picture of Willy's tail-wagging back half while his front end is buried inside a large bag of trash. And later, when the quick-thinking boy in the family donates his belt to use as a collar, he's shown struggling to keep his pants up while his sister (who donated a hair ribbon to use as a leash) frolics and plays with the family's newest member.

--Beth Amos

Horn Book
This picture book has all the earmarks of a classic...Overarching shape, knowledge of audience, small details—Simont gets it all right.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Simont's art possesses its usual deceptive ease and friendly watercolor fluidity. . . . will have pooch-loving kids investigating every park with hope and determination.
Karen Carden
The Stray Dog, by Marc Simont, was 15 years in the making - and well worth the wait. It's based on a true account of a family that finds a dog they can't forget. When they discover the authorities consider it a stray, the family adopts the little pooch and saves him from the dog catcher. This heartwarming story comes alive in Simont's lean, expressive text and his engaging illustrations. Despite its simplicity, the tale evokes a range of emotions that will feel genuine to any young reader.
The Christian Science Monitor
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this slender but engaging volume, Caldecott Medalist Simont (A Tree Is Nice) retells and illustrates a true story told to him by a friend. Picnicking in the country, a family spies a friendly dog. The brother and sister play with him and even name him, but their parents will not let them take Willy back to their city home. "He must belong to somebody," their mother explains, "and they would miss him." Returning to the same spot the following weekend, they once again see Willy, this time being chased by a dog warden who deems him a stray: "He has no collar. He has no leash." In the tale's most endearing scene, the boy removes his belt and the girl her hair ribbon, which they identify to the warden as Willy's collar and leash: "His name is Willy, and he belongs to us." Simont's art and narrative play off each other strategically, together imparting the tale's humor and tenderness. The final scenes are simple gems of understatement and wit. "They took Willy home" accompanies a full-bleed picture of the children energetically and messily bathing the dog; "And after that... they introduced him to the neighborhood, where he met some very interesting dogs" captions a busy scene of a park full of pooches. A charmer. Ages 4-8. (Jan.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
While picnicking in the park, a brother and sister play with a stray dog they name Willy. Although they'd like to take him home, their mother explains that "He must belong to somebody...and they would miss him." But each family member thinks about Willy that week, and the next Saturday they head out of the city and return to their picnic spot in hopes of seeing him again. When Willy races past their picnic table pursued by the dog warden, the boy and girl join the chase. The warden (so large that we see him only from the chest down) captures Willy, but the boy explains that his belt is "his collar" and his sister says her hair ribbon is Willy's leash. "His name is Willy, and he belongs to us." Based on a true story by Reiko Sassa, Caldecott award-winner Simont's soft yet exuberant watercolor illustrations capture the emotions here with grace and simplicity. 2001, HarperCollins, . Ages 3 to 8. Reviewer: Cherri Jones
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-Based on a friend's experience adopting a stray dog, Marc Simont has written and illustrated a gentle book (HarperCollins, 2001) about a stray that finds a loving home. When the family first saw Willy they played with him, but left him behind. The next week he was there again, however, and they saved him from the dog-catcher and brought him home with them. The story is simple, yet elegant. It speaks to the child in every reader. The narrator, William Dufris, creates different voices for each character. Light background music and the occasional barking dog sound effect add to the production. Considerable time is given between page-turn signals, perhaps so that readers have time to enjoy the illustrations. Listeners can hear the narrator turning the pages of his book before the official "page-turn signal" occurs. Despite this minor quibble, this is a sweet book that children will enjoy listening to as they read along.-Teresa Bateman, Brigadoon Elementary School, Federal Way, WA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780064436694
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/27/2003
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 118,306
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: 60L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 10.62 (h) x 0.07 (d)

Meet the Author

Marc Simont was born in 1915 in Paris. His parents were from the Catalonia region of Spain, and his childhood was spent in France, Spain, and the United States. Encouraged by his father, Joseph Simont, an artist and staff illustrator for the magazine L'Illustration, Marc Simont drew from a young age. Though he later attended art school in Paris and New York, he considers his father to have been his greatest teacher.

When he was nineteen, Mr. Simont settled in America permanently, determined to support himself as an artist. His first illustrations for a children's book appeared in 1939. Since then, Mr. Simont has illustrated nearly a hundred books, working with authors as diverse as Margaret Wise Brown and James Thurber. He won a Caldecott Honor in 1950 for illustrating Ruth Krauss's The Happy Day, and in in 1957 he was awarded the Caldecott Medal for his pictures in A Tree is Nice, by Janice May Udry.

Internationally acclaimed for its grace, humor, and beauty, Marc Simont's art is in collections as far afield at the Kijo Picture Book Museum in Japan, but the honor he holds most dear is having been chosen as the 1997 Illustrator of the Year in his native Catalonia. Mr. Simont and his wife have one grown son, two dogs and a cat. They live in West Cornwall, Connecticut. Marc Simont's most recent book is The Stray Dog.

Marc Simont was born in 1915 in Paris. His parents were from the Catalonia region of Spain, and his childhood was spent in France, Spain, and the United States. Encouraged by his father, Joseph Simont, an artist and staff illustrator for the magazine L'Illustration, Marc Simont drew from a young age. Though he later attended art school in Paris and New York, he considers his father to have been his greatest teacher.

When he was nineteen, Mr. Simont settled in America permanently, determined to support himself as an artist. His first illustrations for a children's book appeared in 1939. Since then, Mr. Simont has illustrated nearly a hundred books, working with authors as diverse as Margaret Wise Brown and James Thurber. He won a Caldecott Honor in 1950 for illustrating Ruth Krauss's The Happy Day, and in in 1957 he was awarded the Caldecott Medal for his pictures in A Tree is Nice, by Janice May Udry.

Internationally acclaimed for its grace, humor, and beauty, Marc Simont's art is in collections as far afield at the Kijo Picture Book Museum in Japan, but the honor he holds most dear is having been chosen as the 1997 Illustrator of the Year in his native Catalonia. Mr. Simont and his wife have one grown son, two dogs and a cat. They live in West Cornwall, Connecticut. Marc Simont's most recent book is The Stray Dog.

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Interviews & Essays

An Interview with Marc Simont

Q: Can you tell us the story of how The Stray Dog came about and why you were compelled to make it into a book?

A: I showed a copy of The Philharmonic Gets Dressed to my friend, Reiko Sassa, the librarian at Japan Society. There is a dog in the book which reminded her of her family pet, a stray they picked up in the public park. The account she gave was a natural for a kid's book and I encouraged her to write it up. After a year in the hands of a Japanese publisher her manuscript was returned. We agreed I should have a go at it. When the publisher to whom I offered it seemed determined to sit on it forever, I decided to show it to HarperCollins, and in little over a week, The Stray Dog was in the works.

Q: Describe the process of creating The Stray Dog? Did the words or the pictures come first? Did elements of the story change as you worked on the book?

A: As I was working on the color dummy, it occurred to me that this simple story of a family and a dog could be told without words. The wordless dummy idea was met with polite resistance by the editor, but by then I had developed the pictures to the point where a minimal amount of text was sufficient to round out the story.

Q: Which was more difficult -- writing or illustrating the story of The Stray Dog? You have written and illustrated The Stray Dog, but you have also illustrated many books, such as A Tree Is Nice by Janie May Udry and The Philharmonic Gets Dressed by Karla Kuskin. How does illustrating your own work versus someone else's compare?

A: The work involved in developing illustrations for a text is the same whether the story someone else's or mine. Where I see a potential problem is when a writer has to turn the text over to someone else to do the pictures. It's a bit like giving up a pet you can no longer care for; all you can do is hope the new owner will love it and treat it well.

Q: Can you tell us about one of your favorite books and why it is especially meaningful for you?

A: There are many wonderful books out there. One of my favorites is Peach Boy, a Japanese folktale illustrated by Suekichi Akaba. I admire the way Akaba fills the page, his use of color, his sensitive portrayals, humor, and his masterful handling of watercolor.

Q: You have illustrated many kinds of children's books, from picture books like The First Christmas to novels like In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson. What are some of the differences in illustrating a picture book versus a novel?

A: With the very young you can let your imagination run free, and they'll stay with you. If you try that with young adults they're apt to tell you you're getting off the subject.

Q: What are the different techniques you have used over the years?

A: There was a time when, for economic reasons, most illustrations were limited to two to three colors. The artist prepared his own color separations, which were superimposed as in a woodblock printing. I liked working with separations, but now the four-color method of reproduction is very good, and economical, and watercolor has become my medium of choice.

Q: You've worked on a great variety of projects calling for different styles of art. Is there a medium or a type of art you'd like to try, or a kind of book or text or story you would like to illustrate?

A: An illustrator is one who complements the text with pictures. A text I have followed for years is the daily newspaper. Now and then the news has conjured up an image which I will draw and fax to my local weekly paper as a "cartoon to the editor." After more than 40 years these drawings have accumulated and I'll have to do something with them...either a bonfire or a book.

Q: It has been said you have "a remarkable ability to connect with the child reader." Why do you think that is? What makes children's books so special to you?

A: Ursula Nordstrom, a prime mover of children's books, who didn't go to college or have any special training, was once asked about her qualifications. "I'm an ex-child," she said. Not letting the child in us get away altogether keeps open a line of communication as we get older.

Q&A courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 9 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 25, 2011

    Highly Recommended for ages 3-6!

    When a family of four encounters a dog, whom they later named Willy, their lives seemed to be changed forever. With Willy now in their lives, they seemed to have found the missing piece they never knew they were overlooking. This book is very short, sweet, and to the point. On some of the leafs the author utilizes the surface with the appropriate drawings and colors, while on other pages he could of used brighter shades to catch the attention of the younger audience. The author does use appropiate language for a child to understand and uses objects that will grab the readers attention, such as the dog. Overall, this is a great book and I would reccommend it for young children who are trying to find their place to fit in.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2007

    Very Enjoyable

    It's nice to have a just plain happy children's book. It's even nicer when the book is based on a true story, as this one is.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2007

    Review

    Marc Simont illustrated his first children¿s book in 1939, and since then has provided the pictures for nearly 100 titles, including the 1949 Caldecott Honor Book The Happy Day, by Ruth Krauss, and Janice May Udry¿s A Tree is Nice, winner of the 1957 Caldecott Medal. He has illustrated such classics as James Thurber¿s The 13 Clocks, Karla Kuskin¿s The Philharmonic Gets Dressed, and Marjorie Weinman Sharmat¿s Nate The Great, as well as his own books, including The Goose That Almost Got Cooked. He won the Caldecott Medal in 2002 for The Stray Dog. The stray dog is based on a true story by Reiko Sassa. A family decided to go on a picnic one day, and met a scruffy little dog. The children taught him to do tricks, and named him Willy. When it was time to go home, the children wanted to take Willy with them, but the parents told them that he probably belonged to someone. All week long the family thought about Willy. The next weekend they went back to the same place to have another picnic. Willy finally appeared, but he did not stop. He was being chased by a dog warden.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2007

    the stray dog

    Going to the park one day a family finds a dog that looked hungry. 'I think that he wants to play,' said the little boy'. The children played with the dog all day. They gave him the name Willy. But when it was time to go home the children asked their father if they could take him home and the father said no. Will Willy ever find a place where he belongs? Will he ever get caught by the dog catcher? Read and you will find out. Marc Simont illustrated his first book in 1939. He lives in West Cornwell, Connecticut with his wife, 2 dogs and thier cat. I really enjoy this book because i love dogs. It breaks my heart when they are not allowed to take willy home. but maybe he does in the end. Simont, Marc. THE STRAY DOG. New York: Harper Collins, 2001.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2007

    Compassion for a Stray

    The Stray Dog is a Caldecott Honor Book, that is recommended to ages 4-8. It is a very wonderful book about a family that encounters a stray dog that they call Willy. The family has a great time with Willy, but are reluctant to take him home for fear that he belongs to someone else. During the week, the family reflects back to their fun time with Willy. But will they encounter the stray again or will his fate lie in that of the dog warden? Read the story to find out.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2002

    Cute as it wanted to be!

    This book was adorable. I am using it to reinforce sight words and sequencing. I think this book lends itself to many lessons, and it can be read for pure pleasure!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2002

    Awesome Book

    It was really good. People might like it. The book made me feel special because I have a dog too. I would like to know more about books from this author.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 13, 2001

    Touched my heart

    This is a book about a stray dog who finds a nice family in the park, but, thinking he must belong to someone, they leave him there. Once they get home, they can't stop thinking about him, wondering if he really had a home to go to. They go back to the park and they see him again, but this time he is being chased by a dogcatcher. The children befriend the dog, and bring him home with them and he becomes a part of the family. Beautifully illustrated. The expressions on the dog's face are wonderful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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