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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Boot and Shoe, written and illustrated by Marla Frazee. Beach Lane Books, Simon & Schuster. 2012. $18.99 ages 3 and up

"Boot decided to station himself on the front porch and wait there until Shoe found his way back. And Shoe decided to station himself on the back porch and wait there until Boot found his way back. It was a long, lonely afternoon. When it was dinnertime, Boot's stomach rumbled. But he didn't want to eat dinner without Shoe. Shoe's stomach rumbled, too."

Here are two terriers you are sure to love...they certainly love each other, despite their differences. They each love the lives they lead, and are happy to spend time together as well. In fact, they share their food dish, a particular tree and their blue bed. What they don't share is the direction  they choose to face. Boot finds comfort on the back porch, whole Shoe gravitates to the front one. It's a perfect life.

That is, until an errant squirrel shows up in their yard one day:

"It chattered at Boot.
It chattered at Shoe.
It threw stuff at Boot.
It threw stuff at Shoe.
And then
it got all up
in Boot's business.
And it got
all up in
Shoe's business,
Something had
to be done."

Not ones to be pestered by an ornery, bothersome denizen of a nearby tree, Boot and Shoe give chase. They chase that varmint until he tires of the fun, and walks away!

When the smoke clears, the two dogs find themselves in unfamiliar territory. In the midst of the mayhem, they have traded porch places. Boot cannot find Shoe where Shoe should be. Alternately, Shoe cannot find Boot where Boot should be. The search is on, with no resulting luck. Both are blue. They guard each other's porch in hopes that the errant resident will find his way home. That waiting is endless.

They miss dinner, forego bedtime, wait out a rainstorm and simultaneously stage an around-the-outer-perimeter search for the other. Their luck remains bad. Their night is endless. At daybreak, with no sign of the other's return, they set to sobbing. Luckily, nature calls and both make their way to their favorite tree to relieve themselves where they also make an amazing discovery!

I would share this sure-to-be-a-favorite tale with students while also reading Homer (Elisha Cooper, 2012, Harper). Both are books made special by the storytelling ability of their respective authors. Marla Frazee hand-letters the type to create a picture book that sparkles with friendship and loyalty. The pencil and gouache artwork gives it a softness and poignancy that will appeal to her young audience, and to anyone who has ever been faced with an abrupt change in lifestyle. The repetitive text will have them reading along, and always wanting more, more, more. I think she does a remarkable job with ever-changing perspectives and, although I was determined to find a favorite illustration, I just could not do it. So much to see and savor....

P.S. If you are not sure which brother is which...look more carefully!

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