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Sunday, June 9, 2013

Ball. Word and pictures by Mary Sullivan. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt., Thomas Allen & Son. 2013. $15.99 ages 3 and up

"One word says it all...BALL!

My granddog Percy may be lazy about walking. He is, after all, a bulldog with little need to get from one place to another for exercise.  But, give him a soccer ball and he knows no limit. He will not stop chasing, pawing, ball handling until it is taken away from him. By that time, his tongue is hanging to the floor and he is ready to spend the rest of his day snoozing! You might call him soccer ball obsessed.

So, too, is the dog in this extremely funny almost wordless book about a chunky blond dog with a penchant for chasing his red ball. He sleeps with it in his mouth, perpetually prepared to chase it down whenever his equally energetic owner will throw it for him.

In the first panels, they are both sound asleep. At the slightest stirring, he thinks ball?, and the chase is on! She's willing despite her need to do the mundane details of dressing for the day, and her heading off to school. He's done his tail-wagging the blocks and off as soon as it leaves her hand. He never gives up the search for it, and the happy return for just one more toss.

Anxiety overtakes as soon as she is out the door! There are people in the house. Maybe?? Nope, Mom is quietly meditating with closed eyes and indifference to his dilemma. The baby screams, the cat launches itself off the chair, even the laundry hamper won't cooperate. There is nothing left to do but sleep...perchance to dream. And dream he does. In a series of hilarious illustrations, he sees his red ball everywhere!

In the final series of panels, we feel his anticipation as he first senses his owner's return, and is then ecstatic that she has come back to him...all to ease his boredom and give him a reason to live once more. What a delight this book is!

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