Sunday, February 28, 2016

One Word Says It All! Treat by Mary Sullivan


The story opens with a rather stout pug-ish dog, snoozing soundly and, judging from the hazy thought balloon drifting above his head, dreaming of a large cone of soft-serve ice cream. But the tendrils of an actual enticing scent from the other room reach his sensitive olfactory system, and, bingo--


In a nano-second the plump pooch goes into beg-mode beside a toddler chowing down on  choco-puffs lined up on her little toy table. One paw raised beguilingly, the dog tries to elicit his treat, only to watch the tot insensitively chunk down the last one.  His thought balloon vanishes in mid-word.

T R E.....

Grrrrr! But there are still more family members to pester for a handout.

Big Sister kneels in front of a breakfast tray upon which lies an intact hotdog. Our mutt tries a trick. He rolls over. He eyeballs the hot dog suggestively. Sis ignores his plea and slams down the hotdog in two bites.

Pooch moves on to Brother, busy with crayons, who quickly sketches a self-portrait and offers it to his pet for approval. With a look on his face that says "Totally clueless," the pooch stomps off.


Grandma is still snoring in her bed, her fairly disgusting false teeth in a glass nearby. Grandpa is brushing his teeth.The baby in his crib has thoughtlessly left his bottle too far away for the pup's stubby paws to reach.

And then he hears a siren call from the laundry room, that one word he longs to hear, and scrabbles toward it with but one thought on his mind....


... only to find the grinning toddler's toy shark in his food bowl. Everybody's a comedian! he sulks.

Our plump pooch throws himself on the waiting pile of dirty laundry and begins a nap, a nap which brings on a hungry hound's worst nightmare.... He circles inside the washing machine as it floats in space.... He pursues an ice cream truck which turns out to be manned by giant sharks.... He is chased by giant false teeth who seem to believe that he's the treat!

What's a guy got to do to get a bite to eat around here?

Even the most loyal of dog lovers will admit that food probably rates higher on their pooch's love list than anything else, and this chubby-cheeked, big-bellied mutt has "FEED ME!" written all over him.

Having documented the ball-obsessed dog in her Theodor Seuss Geisel-Award-winning Ball, Mary Sullivan takes over that other canine obsession, (I'll have whatever you're having!), in her forthcoming Treat (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016), a real treat for dog fanciers, emergent readers, and adult and beginning readers who love a big, fat, juicy read-aloud book with plenty of room for gusto.

Sullivan's fun and funny colored-pencil illustrations are set against inspired page design, using thought bubbles (some shaped like Valentines and a chomped-into shark) and evocative font design to reveal exactly the one big thing on our portly pup's mind. Punctuation plays a big part in the storytelling, with periods, question marks, and multiple exclamation marks revealing the snack-obsessed canine's emotions, providing a little writing lesson along with a story which is good right down to the last bite.  Sullivan's latest  picture book ends with a most satisfying surprise for our paunchy pooch--and a totally satisfying treat for young readers.



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