Black Dog by Levi Pinfold is a beautiful picture book about fear, about over coming fear. It’s also a picture book with a wonderfully large, feel good dose of old fashioned charm emanating from those delightful illustrations.
It all begins when Mr Hope spies ‘a black dog the size of a tiger’ outside his house. The laugh from the policeman doesn’t reassure him! Then Mrs Hope spies ‘a black dog the size of an elephant’ … and I’m sure you can imagine what happens when the youngsters Maurice and Adeline look out the window. Helpful pieces of advise are offered … but there’s no mistaking it, they are all scared. As their fear increases, so does the size of that dog.
In a wonderful twist, Small, the youngest member of the family calls them all ‘sillies’ and searches out the truth for herself. With her absence of fear, well, I think you can guess what happens to the size of that dog. I loved the imaginative element to this; the magical and almost fable feel to the development of the story is a strong part of its appeal.
There’s an intriguing depth and power to Pinfold’s picture book, which is really quite mesmerising. The narrative moves swiftly, with carefully written dialogue adding some touches of humour.
Those illustrations! Gorgeously soft and detailed, Pinfold’s wonderfully rich paintings adorn each page. There’s an old fashioned quality to the Hope’s house with copper kettles and brass door knockers, and a higgledy piggledy charm which offers comfort and warmth.
There’s an Sendak-esq depth to Pinfold’s illustrations which really pull the reader in.
Black Dog is a real treat, a wonderful picture book to own and share. Purchase your own copy by taking advantage of our online price comparison, and clicking on your chosen store above.
Black Dog won The CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2013