cover image SWOLLOBOG


Alastair Taylor, SWOLLOBOGAlistair Taylor

Swollobog, a portly brown dachshund, owes her name to a child's backward "d" and a misspelling of "swallow." If the name is odd, the point is simple: "It's really all a matter of greediness." Swollobog eats anything, and her elastic body often recalls a boa constrictor's. In one portrait, she proudly stands with a circular disc spanning her midriff ("One day she ate so fast she swallowed it all in one gulp—bowl included"), and in a cartoon montage, she radically changes colors and shape-shifts after devouring a chili pepper. Swollobog's worst offense takes place at a fair, where she consumes a helium balloon. She literally floats away, just out of reach of a circus performer on stilts; her ingenious family retrieves her with the help of a kite, a needle-sharp piece of peanut brittle and psychic vibes ("She can smell the thought of cheese, you see"). Taylor, making his picture-book debut, depicts Swollobog with a cigar-shaped nose, a crafty grin and a body that will accommodate any foodstuff. He styles the narrative as a chatty monologue by Meg, a girl who loves but is embarrassed by her insatiable dog. The voluble prose often overwhelms the pictures, yet mimics a young voice effectively; within the gouache paintings, randomly jotted phrases add to the quirky wit (the remark "I can't think where I put that sack of potatoes" appears near a lumpy Swollobog). This breezy tall tale marks Taylor as a promising purveyor of hyperbole. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)