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Thursday, May 6, 2010

My Dog is as Smelly as Dirty Socks, written and illustrated by Hanoch Piven. Schwartz & Wade, Random House. 2007. $21.99 ages 4 and up

"I am colorful as a FLOWER
and as lovely as PERFUME.
I am as strong as a STONE
and as good as an ANGEL.
(Hey, I'm not done yet.)"

I said I would put this book on my wish list, and's here. It has all the same qualities as My Best Friend Is As Sharp As A Pencil (April 29). In an author's note, Hanoch Piven tells his readers that he spent time in the oncology wing of a children's hospital where he conducted workshops with sick children and teenagers. They created self-portraits and family groupings using found materials, common in most households and also from the hospital. Their wonderful creations grace the endpapers of this book.

The author took what he was doing in that workshop and applied it to create a series of portraits of a little girl (the princess) and her family. We meet them all at the beginning, sketched on a torn-out notebook page and labelled so that we might know each one of them. But, our narrator knows much more than we do and determines that she will introduce reader to each of the family members. What fun!

As he has done before, the artist uses found materials to help determine the text and then proceeds to create an image that will have those who share this book make many discoveries. Of course, with encouragement, the story can be easily extended to move beyond the pages of the book to each listener's own creative imagining of pets, family, extended family and visitors. The possibilities seem endless.

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