Book: A Greyhound, a Groundhog
Author: Emily Jenkins
Illustrator: Chris Applehans
Age Range: 3-6
A Greyhound, a Groundhog isn't so much a story as an extended bit of wordplay centering around a greyhound and a groundhog. Emily Jenkins' spare text reads almost like a tongue-twister, as we follow grey dog and brown hound around through the pages of the book. There's a minimalist narrative about the greyhound and groundhog becoming friends, playing together and celebrating nature. Like this (over three page spreads):
"A greyhound, a groundhog,
a found little
Around, round hound.
Around, brown hog.
Around, grey dog."
You almost have to stop and check yourself, to make sure you are reading it right. The similar and repeating words, and rhyming words, make A Greyhound, a Groundhog a poem in picture book form. I think it would work best as a read-aloud for preschoolers, with a soothing rhythm that would comfort before naptime.
Chris Applehans' watercolor and pencil illustrations use a restrained color palette with lots of purple-tinged gray and brown, and plenty of white space. The spare illustrations reinforce the minimalist text, while also capturing Jenkins' wordplay around the shape of the animals. For instance, the "roundhog" mentioned above is shown rather like a ball, uncertain in the face of the cheerful and very different-shaped greyhound. Later in the book, as the animals' play becomes more active, both text and animals leap around the page, with slightly blurred edges representing speed. Ultimately, Applehans is able to capture the joy the greyhound and groundhog take from their friendship.
A Greyhound, a Groundhog is a certainly a quieter picture book. It is also a lovely celebration of friendship.
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade (@RandomHouseKids)
Publication Date: January 3, 2017
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
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