A Boy, a Ball, and a Dog

illus. by Gianna Marino. 40p. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter Bks. Jun. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781626722873.
PreS-Gr 2—Anyone who has a dog knows how long a game of catch can be. And when a dog has a boy to throw that ball to him, there is nothing better. This story begins with the assertion that "there was never a ball the boy wouldn't throw…or one his dog couldn't catch." Until the boy lets go of a bright red balloon in a strong wind, and the dog, who believes it is a ball, knows he must not let the boy down. The text is spare and is really just the skeleton of the story. The illustrations carry the majority of the plot. As the dog races through town in pursuit of the balloon, readers can sense the strength of the mischievous wind. Garments blow off clotheslines, and feathers blow off the wings of birds. There are clever details throughout—the dog sailing off the pier in his attempt to catch that pesky balloon, a sock flying along with the balloon—all of which will reward repeated close viewings. The town and setting have been carefully constructed to suit the flow of the story and the wind. The colors are also bright and fluid, giving more force to the gusts.
VERDICT A lovely book to pore over, with engaging art. When the boy and dog are reunited, readers will feel that they have been on an adventure as well.

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