I dedicate this blog to comics in all forms, manga, autobio, superhero, art books, etc. And of course, since I need a challenge, I've decided that I'll read and write (short) reviews for 365 comics during 2015.
Sometimes summer for kids means being sent somewhere they don't really want to go, for reasons adults don't think they understand, but of course, they know what's up.
Sunny is sent to stay with her grandfather in his retirement village over the summer. Hanging out with the oldies leaves Sunny with a lot of time to reflect about the past school year, remembering how the teachers looked at her when they heard her last name, how the kids acted when they saw her brother heading towards a certain well known bridge and how she feels seeing her brother change from her friend to someone completely unpredictable and scary.
This is a good story presented in a non-threatening way that covers a tough topic. I like how the Holms approach Sunny's world, her awareness of all the clues and yet confusion about the changes within her family as her brother's addiction affects everyone more and more and she doesn't know how to return to the way things were before.
In Like a Wolf Geraldine Elschner's story combines with Antione Guilloppe's cut paper artwork to create the stark world of a dog, judged to be "just like a wolf," and abandoned in a yard behind chain link, or behind the bars of a cage awaiting rescue that doesn't come, even as he watches other, more friendly looking dogs, get chosen. Despite looking, 'just like a wolf' the dog longs only for companionship and the feeling of a soft hand upon his grey fur.
Finally a man comes and looks at the dog a different way, saying, "You look like a herding dog." Soon the dog is helping herd sheep and has finally recognized for what he was all along, a good dog.
This is a easy picture book I was considering for storytime, but despite the fact that the book resonated with me, I'm not sure it's right for storytime. Although I liked that the dog says a couple times that people say he is, 'all of a wolf' or 'just like a wolf' based on his appearance, I would have liked that to be repeated a bit more, so that children attending a storytime would have a structure to look to in the story, which might soften the overall very depressing message that stays through most the story.
I also like that at the end we have wonderful cut paper silhouette images of the dog and his new partner under the stars with the sheep, but again for me there needed to be something a little lighter and brighter to the book in order to present it to kids at a storytime.
This might be something for parents to read to children, especially those struggling in some way with appearance and acceptance, but it might be a hard message to take in and not appreciated by just any child.
If I were taking my child to adopt a dog (or other pet), I might read this with them (along with some others) before hand, just to give them some mindfulness about judging based solely on appearance before looking at pets.
Overall, a beautiful picture book that has an uplifting ending, but starts out with a very stark and realistic view of life for many animals who are abandoned.