Windy Hollow Books, Australia, 2021
This charming book is Catherine Meatheringham’s second, and follows the equally joyous My Possum Plays the Drums (Catherine Meatheringham and Max Hamilton, Windy Hollow Books, 2020).
Like its predecessor, it delights in the use of onomatopoeia, a favourite device of children’s authors for engaging both the interest and the participation of young listeners. The author has shared with us the words a number of different cultures and language groups use to denote the sound of the dog’s bark – in English Woof Woof.
Deb Hudson’s illustrations are wonderfully vibrant and detailed, and will take the reader, child or adult, on a sensory journey, taking in so many possible sounds and scents, as well as all that barking –the Aussie ice-cream van by the beach with its ever present seagulls and shimmering heat haze, the oh! so colourful stall of the spice sellers in India, its background including a brilliantly feathered peacock and blue birds in flight, the crisp white silence of the Russian snow scene with its doves, minarets and snowman.
There is so much to see on every page that discussion between children and their adults is sure to be part of the sharing of this book, as is the chiming in of the various barking words. Who doesn’t love a good barking session!
The artist’s own fabulously energetic Border Collie was clearly an excellent model, providing visual continuity for Catherine’s explorations and an emotional barometer from the boundless energy of stick fetching to the end of day exhausted cuddle on the mat.
Deb Hudson is also the book designer and gives us much to love – the hairy, pawsy cuddle on the cover, the delicious paw print end papers and the colourful visual feasts of the internal pages. The combination of this insightful writer and equally sensitive artist is inspired – all hail the publisher, I believe, for this choice.
That dogs give joy and companionship around the world is a clear unspoken message in this story. The notion that we share so much across cultures and have so much to learn from one another gently but persistently underpins this beguiling doggy tale.
Thank you to Windy Hollow Books for my review copy and to Catherine Meatheringham for speaking with me about the work. Find out more about Catherine at https://www.catherinemeatheringham.com/books