cover image Black Dog

Black Dog

Levi Pinfold. Candlewick/Templar, $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-6097-0

Pinfold’s debut, The Django (2010), featured striking artwork, but lacked direction. His sophomore effort succeeds where the earlier work stumbled. Small Hope, the youngest member of her family, ventures outdoors one snowy morning to confront a monstrous black dog that’s been terrifying her parents and siblings. In a striking spread, Pinfold paints a tiny Small Hope gazing up at a dog the size of Mount Rushmore, its black snout looming malevolently. “Golly, you ARE big!” she says, unafraid. “What are you doing here, you guffin?” She takes off across the snowy ground with a rhyming taunt: “You can’t follow where I go,/ unless you shrink, or don’t you know?” The dog pursues Small Hope from spread to spread, shrinking as he goes, and the pair arrives home to find the rest of the family comically armed for battle with kitchen utensils. Pinfold’s interiors are crammed with quirky detail, and his small sepia vignettes, which cluster around the story’s text, are an elegant detail. More crucially, the story stays focused, the pacing is strong, and Small Hope is as charming as she is brave. Ages 4–7. (Oct.)