Hot Dog

Doug Salati. Knopf, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-593-30843-1

Set on one sizzling summer day, this remarkable slice-of-life story, a solo debut, stars a copper-hued, city-dwelling dachshund—the titular hot dog. In pencil, gouache, and digital spreads that have a candid feel, Salati (Lawrence in the Fall) captures the city’s crush, and the dog’s plunking down in the center of a crosswalk, refusing to move. But the hound’s human—a white-skinned individual who wears glasses and a fanny pack—knows just what they need. The two grab a cab, then board a train and a ferry. As the images transition from warm to cool colors, and the text moves from vertically set staccato lines to horizontal fare, the duo arrive at “an island... wild and long and low,” where, at last, “a pup can run.” Full spreads open out onto luxurious stretches of ocean, sand, and reeds, where the two share a blissful afternoon. As the dog scavenges and the human rests, vignettes capture the joy of companions who are utterly relaxed in the other’s presence. And when the setting sun precipitates a return home, the gentle introduction of urban blues and greens suggest a better balance as “everyone/ cools/ down.” Employing snapshots of city life that create a strong sense of place, Salati makes smart use of the picture book format to craft a calming portrait of escape and renewal. Ages 4–8. Agent: Erica Rand Silverman, Stimola Literary. (May)
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