Sunday, October 26, 2014

It's a "Dog and Bear" Halloween

Halloween-themed picture books aren't necessarily some of the best kids' books out there. Too often, they tend to be more workman-like than inspired. That's why it's such a thrill to see two-time Caldecott Honor author/illustrator Laura Vaccaro Seeger publish Dog and Bear: Tricks and Treats (Roaring Brook, $14.99).

This isn't your run-of-the-mill Halloween book. Instead, it's a real treat of a book with a perfectly-paced comic text and black lined, bold-colored illustrations that further amplify the humor. This is Seeger's fourth book about Dog and Bear and the tight, if not always smooth, friendship between them -- mirroring the friendships of their preschool readers.

As is traditional in the Dog and Bear books, Seeger divides Dog and Bear: Tricks and Treats into three separate stories, something that makes them great for young readers longing to read "chapter books." The stories are short and snappy, with minimal text that still manages to be quite funny. Combined with Seeger's cheerful illustrations and her mastery of the "drama of the page turn," the stories in Dog and Bear: Tricks and Treats offer a memorable twist on the typical Halloween topics of costumes and candy.

In the first story, Dog and Bear are in a store trying on costumes when Bear glimpses himself in the changing room mirror and thinks he's seeing another bear He quickly calls to Dog to come and see for himself; Dog is duly amazed to see the Bear who "has a friend who looks EXACTLY like me!" Of course, young readers will love to laugh at such silliness -- they, of course, know it's just a mirror.

The second story tells of Dog's unusual way of dealing with trick-and-treaters, which preschoolers will figure out right away from the illustrations and find just hilarious. In the final tale, Dog and Bear are denied treats at one house because they aren't wearing costumes, but just look like themselves. But Seeger has a surprise up her sleeve, which will leave her readers hooting with laughter as they close the pages of the book.

If you're not familiar with the Dog and Bear, this new one is a fine place to start. But be sure to read the others as well: Dog and Bear: Two Friends, Three Stories; Dog and Bear: Three to Get Ready; and Dog and Bear: Two's Company. Meanwhile, try out some of these fun activities connected to the newest Dog and Bear book.

END NOTES: My blogpost is based on a review copy of the book provided by Macmillan.

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