The Dog that Ate the World

The Dog that Ate the World
Sandra Dieckmann
Flying Eye Books

Down in the valley the various animals live alongside each other peaceably, birds with birds, bears fishing with bears and fox playing his fiddle to other foxes.

Then, one fateful day across the pastures comes an unwanted canine intruder, large and greedy. He helps himself to whatever he wants in the way of food and drink, growing ever larger.
In an attempt to assuage the hunger of the beastly dog, the fox with his fiddle approaches him and plays a song.

He’s rewarded for his efforts by being consumed by the dog, but despite this the fox continues playing his song from within.

It’s heard without by a trio of brave bunnies that resolve to rescue the fox,

but they too end up inside the dog.

Peace-makers attempt to talk, trick and tire the beast, all to no avail; the dog swallows the lot.
Trapped within, the animals light a fire, talk and work, until eventually as life continues to flourish, so too does hope.

Nonetheless the gluttonous and now prodigious, dog continues stuffing himself until finally, down too, goes the sun and the entire sky. The beast has eaten his entire world.

And what of the other animals? Let’s just say that brightness surrounds them. In their world, there’s no place for such an animal as that voracious dog and all is peace, harmony and togetherness.

The forest animals in Sandra Dieckmann’s second picture book demonstrate so well to us humans, the importance of friendship and community when disaster strikes. Her striking colour palette, mixed-media, richly detailed scenes of flora and fauna, and slightly mystical landscapes draw one in and hold you while you ponder both composition and meaning.

Surely an allegory of our times and one that is open to many interpretations. However one sees that all consuming metaphorical dog, be it as consumerism, capitalism, or evil itself, this book is sure to engender discussion no matter the age of the audience.

Grab That Rabbit!

Grab That Rabbit!
Polly Faber and Briony May Smith
Pavilion

Hodge is a large white rabbit with a single black splodge. On this particular day however he isn’t his usual happy self and that’s on account of having got himself stuck in the hedge due to his over-indulgence.

No amount of wriggling has managed to release him when into the garden comes Mrs Sprat intent on pulling up some tasty carrots for her dinner.

The trouble is that on account of a certain rabbit, there’s a distinct lack of carrots.

A furious Mrs Sprat grabs hold of Hodge’s rear end, out he comes and …

Happily Hodge makes a run for it but what he doesn’t notice is the large shadowy shape above him about to swoop …
And swoop it does, seizing Hodge in its talons. Fortunately for the rabbit but not so for the predator, all those carrots have made Hodge a heavy catch, so heavy that the buzzard drops him. Plop! He lands right on Mrs Hodge’s hat. Splat!

Is he destined for her cooking pot instead of those carrots?

With her clipped narrative style Polly Faber has seemingly taken reading scheme language and turned it into a playful parody of same which, unlike the former, is involving for listeners and reads aloud really well.

Appropriately executed in predominantly earthy hues, Briony May Smith’s illustrations are superb: wonderfully dramatic and full of absorbing details that make you want to linger over every spread.

The tragic tale of Dwayne The Eating Monster

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The Tragic Tale of Dwayne the Eating Monster
Valentina Mendicino
Top That Publishing
Meet Dwayne – total food addict with no other interests apart from the assimilation of all manner of items from his fridge. Fine thus far – or maybe not so fine, judging by his already rotund appearance but things get even less fine when Dwayne decides to tickle his taste buds with some new fodder such as …

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which needless to say gets him into the neighbours’ bad books.
Dwayne’s insatiable appetite means that he’s ever expanding his girth to the point where he has outgrown his bed, is unable to reach to tie his shoelaces, cannot sit as his desk in school, nor play hide-and-seek or ride his bike, and eventually, squeeze through his own front door. Hmm!

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Any self-respecting person or monster would surely be taking him or herself in hand by this time; but Dwayne? Not on your life. He still carries on stuffing himself and getting larger and … but equally so do the things he wants to consume …

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Until finally, he’s eaten himself out of house and home, the planet, the … hang on;

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is he about to meet his cum uppance here?
This funny cautionary tale for foodies and others is bound to tickle the taste buds of young listeners and, once they’ve listened to the story a couple of times, developing readers. The whole thing is inviting, not least the three dimensional-looking characters and those flaps. I can well imagine children in an early years setting being inspired to create their very own ‘Dwayneiverse’ from soft modeling materials and inventing their own stories around it.

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