25 June 2009

A Great Dane Called Pinkerton

My mother took my sister Alison and I to the bookmobile or library weekly during the summer months. It was always a treat to go home with a sack of books. One of the first author/illustrators I remember looking for as a child was Steven Kellogg. Once you read one of his books, you can easily spot another one by his distinct style of illustration.

Arguably his most popular character is a great Dane named Pinkerton. Who can resist a giant dog who acts like he is a puppy? Although Pinkerton drew me to Kellogg’s world as a child, it was the eye for details that hooked me. I used to love looking at the expression on each character’s face. In A Rose for Pinkerton, there is a vicious pack of French poodles that is as absurdly funny as it is unsettling.

The worlds that Kellogg illustrates are populated with smiling kids, patient parents, loyal dogs, cats, cows, snakes, foxes, bears and plenty of other animals for kids to enjoy. Every page has lots of tiny little surprises for the reader who will take the time to savor the pictures.

In the book If You Go To the Moon, Kellogg illustrates a how to guide for lunar travel written by Faith McNulty. The lunar landscapes are very different from his typical style. The pictures of the moon visit are sparse, but they provide a stark contrast to the return trip to Earth. During the voyage home, our planet slowly gets larger and larger, and ultimately ends with a four page fold out picture that I wish I had a print of for Isaac’s wall. Kellogg creates an idealized snapshot of our world featuring oceans, polar regions, jungles, deserts, a brief history of human kind, dozens of different animals and a pond full of kids from around the world playing and splashing.

I often get a lump in my throat when Isaac and I get to that picture. He and I take turns trying to find different animals. I’m sure Isaac will remember Kellogg’s style and will hopefully pick up some of his books for older children in the future.


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