Stormy, by Chinese author/illustrator Guojing, captures attention from a first look at its cover: a small, curly-haired dog and his ball created in soft hues with pencil and watercolor. The assumption can easily be that this is another lovely dog story, potentially appealing to both young and old. However, opening this book reveals a visual narrative whose art goes beyond just “another dog story.”
The beginning end papers reveal a park scene with a small bundle hovered under a park bench and a dark ominous sky. If one looks ahead to the final end papers, the same scene closes the story with bright skies revealing the space under the bench empty. Between these scenes that imply a hopeful change for the pup, a series of various sized frames tells of a woman who goes to a park to read and then discovers a small timid dog. The images on following pages reveal the woman’s patient efforts on subsequent visits to kindly lure the fearful dog to her. Anyone who has been around animals can sense the realistic approaches the woman uses to befriend the dog as evident in the illustrator’s positioning of the woman offering a friendly hand and later a ball. The dog finally follows her home after one visit only to be caught in a storm while waiting beneath her city apartment. The danger of the wind and lightening laden storm is quickly sensed as the woman rushes to the park. What follows is a heart-warming rescue as the woman brings the dog into her home. This visual story closes with a night image in gray and black tones, the dog peering at the sleeping woman over the end of the bed. A following final page shows just a bit of light coming through the window–morning–revealing the small dog sleeping on the end of the bed.
The use of light and dark as well as ambiance and visual affect in this emotional and energetic story reveals the mastery of these artistic elements by Guojing. The intensity and emotion of the story needs no words as the art draws the reader into the realities of the situation and an outcome that meets with the building hopefulness of the visual narrative. For dog lovers and others, this feast of illustrative techniques does not disappoint and begs to be reread with attention to each detail that the illustrations provide. -Recommended by Janelle B. Mathis, University of North Texas, Denton, TX
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade
PubDate: September 17, 2019
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