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.
Black Dog opens with a… black dog. A rather large one. The dog is sniffing around the Hope house on a snowy winter morning when Mr. Hope spots it – and is alarmed – the dog is the size of a tiger! As the rest of the family wake up, one by one, their exclamations of surprise seem to cause the dog to grow, until it’s the size of a Tyrannosaurus Rex (!). By the time Small (for short) Hope wakes up, the rest of her family is cowering underneath a blanket. It is Small who bundles up in her winter gear and heads out the door to confront the monstrous dog. Her adventure through the winter morning puts things in perspective, and when she arrives back at home she has conquered the thing her family feared and found herself a new friend.
Oh, I LIKED this picture book! The story itself is timeless, and will appeal especially to dog-lovers, youngest children, and parents and kids who enjoy pictures that you can pour over for hours. Resourcefulness and facing big fears are the two themes, and they are complemented by excellent artwork and touches of humor. It’s a beautiful book and a worthy one too.
Back to Pinfold’s illustrations: they are imaginative and not all what you’d expect. There is of course the enormous dog, but there are also spreads demonstrating the family’s reaction to it. The Hope house interior is a fascinating and whimsical place, and the wintry outdoors is full of animals and pathways that only a child would recognize. The book as a whole is a delightful piece of art, and I only wish I knew more children to gift it to.
Recommended for: children (and the adults who read to them) who like picture-rich books, and anyone who needs a dose of fearlessness.