Picture Book Reviews: This Old Dog & On Account of the Gum

Thanks to the kind folks at Raincoast Books, I have two terrific picture books on the review docket! I will be taking a look at This Old Dog by Martha Brockenbrough and Gabriel Alborozo, and On Account of the Gum by Adam Rex. I hope you enjoy!

The speed of life
since the girl was born
is fast fast fast,
and old dog likes
to take things slow. 
-excerpt from This Old Dog by Martha Brockenbrough and Gabriel Alborozo

Written by Martha Brockenbrough (The Game of Life and Death, Unpresidented) and illustrated by Gabriel Alborozo (The Colour Thief, The Mouse and the Moon), This Old Dog is a magnificently tenderhearted picture book. As our canine friend wakes up to the sunshine, his tail gives a “thump-thump. Thump-thump”. Old dog goes about his daily routine, and even as his “old hips ache” and his “old back whines”, he prepares himself for a walk, leash in mouth. But the thing is, since his family welcomed a baby into the family, things have felt rushed and altogether bustling for old dog. Walks of leisure, of strolling and rolling in the muck, of “deep sniffs” and slower play, of simply getting a chance to “hear the leaves tell what it’s like to live in a tree”, seem to be a thing of the past. And that, it must be said, makes old dog bow his head in sadness. Why can’t things be like they once were? Why can’t there be a friend who might adore and want the same sweet slowness as he does? But wait! Whatever will happen when the little baby begins to stand on her own two feet? Whatever will happen when old dog and “his girl” begin to see eye to eye? Well, dear readers, I will leave their adventures for you to discover, but I will say to prepare yourselves for a gorgeous, beatific story (and no sad endings, I promise). Brockenbrough brings readers such a radiant, warm story- a thoughtful, lyrical one that gets to readers’ hearts in the best ways, while Alborozo’s beautiful multi-media illustrations (which start as pen and ink drawings), have such a perfectly rosy, sketched and relaxed feel. (Old dog and his girl, in particular, are such dear, lively creations and characters- readers will likely fall in love with the duo). For readers who love canines, have ever had or known a beloved dog, or for readers who simply love a sincerely lovely, heart-tugging tale, This Old Dog is the perfect pick.

Written and illustrated by Adam Rex (Rhymes with Orange, Why? with Claire Keane ), On Account of the Gum is a picture book full of wild fun, ever-increasing curiosity and rhymes. If you’re familiar, even a little bit with Adam Rex’s picture books, you may already be aware that HIJINKS, capital H, await. Fantastic, sometimes outlandish ideas that are part of very clever, well-done stories. On Account of the Gum falls right under Rex’s wheelhouse, with a fabulous story about gum stuck in a young kid’s hair, and what happens when ideas and attempts to get rid of the gum do not go as planned. As the story opens, we see our protagonist fall asleep with a ‘Z’ as a small blob of gum plops out of their mouth. Upon waking up, the kid discovers the blob of pink gum now sits atop their head. Stuck. The first round of attempts at gum removal (involving scissors, butter, and grass!) do not go well. At all. The second round of attempts (some involving live animals- don’t worry, no one gets harmed) follow the same head-tilting, wacky chaos, building and building a Tower of Pisa of sorts atop the protagonist’s poor tufty hair. Just how much disaster can one kid and one head of hair take? And will anything actually work to get rid of the gum? Rex’s disarming, conversational and offbeat, pitch-perfect storytelling- matched by splendidly bold and funny illustrations- guide the story to a surprising climax and finale. An affair of hair that might cause gasps and giggles and requests for re-reading, On Account of the Gum is fantastic funny reading.

I received copies of these titles courtesy of Raincoast Books in exchange for honest reviews. All opinions and comments are my own. Titles have been published and are currently available.

Author: michelle@fabbookreviews

Reference & Children's Librarian. Reader. Reviewer.

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