.This book just ate my dog!
Written and Illustrated by Richard Byrne
Henry Holt, 2014, 32 pp.
Bella sets off on a “stroll across the page,” with her oversized dog following on a leash, when “something very odd happened.” When she turns to look at her dog, she sees that first his front half, then his whole body, have disappeared into the gutter of the book! As Bella stands there stunned, Ben walks up and offers to help . . . but then disappears into the gutter too, followed by Dog Rescue, the Fire Brigade, and the police. Frustrated, Bella decides to “sort this out myself” and goes to investigate. A little while after she disappears, she tosses a note to the reader out of the gutter, asking the reader to turn the book sideways and shake. Immediately the Fire Brigade, police, and Ben tumble out, followed by Bella and the dog. At first glance everything seems to be back in order but close observations by the reader show that that is not quite the case!
This clever book by Richard Byrne is sure to generate giggles from readers of all ages. Byrne cleverly and skillfully uses the gutter that joins the double-page spreads to tell an engaging story of friendship and problem-solving. The mixed media art uses complementary colors for the main images on each page, contrasted against vague grays in the background for emphasis.
Richard Byrne was born and lives in England. After working in graphic design, he discovered his passion was writing children’s books. The British language in This book just ate my dog!, such as “walkies” and “fire brigade” add to its charm.
This book would work well in a text set with other books by Richard Byrne, such as Penguins Can’t Fly: Two Friends Become TRUE Friends! (2013) and The Really, Really, Really Big Dinosaur (2012). It would also work well in a text set in which the artists wove physical parts of the book into the story, such as in Again! (Emily Gravett, 2011), Open Very Carefully: A Book with Bite (Nick Bromley & Nicola O’Byrne, 2013), and The Incredible Book Eating Boy (Oliver Jeffers (2006).
Prisca Martens, Towson University, Towson, Maryland