TREAT (Mary Sullivan)
HMH Books 2016
C: I would like to start by pointing out to you the cover information: "Word and pictures by Mary Sullivan". As in WORD.
S: I have no word to describe how much I love that.
C: Indeed. I wonder if anyone caught that before actually reading this book? It is a huge hilarious hint if you ask me.
S: The whole concept for this book is one that will be immediately recognized and appreciated by human and canine readers alike. Also I like the antagonist shark on page 4.
C: When I first read this book I fell in love with the delightful battle between expectation and surprise. I mean, when it comes to dogs and treats, there are 2 obvious outcomes (the dog gets the treat or the dog does not get the treat) and Mary Sullivan does not disappoint. So as you read through it you think you know what is going to happen--which is nicely reassuring for young readers--but the path to what happens is wholly enjoyable and filled with unexpected whimsy.
S: It is glorious that much of the story is told through font. Many books make the font obviously bigger and smaller for different emphasis, but to have the font upside down, fade into nothingness, appear inside a shark-shaped talk bubble and written with a polite flair--I don't remember a book with quite so much emotional range packed into the letters used to make up just one word.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, I definitely think in this case a thousand ways of writing a word really adds infinitely to the worth of the picture.
C: I totally agree. Mary Sullivan certainly makes the most of that one word. At first I considered "Treat" to be similar to wordless books, but I've since changed my mind--the difference IS subtle but it is there. A wordless book is totally open, the action fed entirely by relationship between the images and the viewer. This book however tells a tight little story where the connecting string is a single word that shapes the action tremendously.
So what age would you match to this treat of a book? (See what I did there?)
S: I see what you did there. Honestly I don't know what age I'd match this with. This is one of those books that you could read to anyone and everyone would cuddle up to it regardless of age. I am 44 and I feel like cuddling up to my dog right now and reading it to him. It would definitely give him some strategies to get more treats.
The comic book frame layout suggests a slightly older readership than babies or toddlers, but any older than that and this book is fair game. There is so much to talk about in each frame.
Two words describe this book: sweet and hilarious. What would be your two words? (And don't say "treat" and "treat".)
C: As we've discussed before with the book "Spot", people make the mistake of assuming that just because a book is wordless, it must be suitable solely for early readers or ESL students, and that is just not the case. "Treat" is a totally fun read for any age person--and especially for dog lovers.
As for my 2 words (If I absolutely MUST limit myself to only 2), I'd say this book is doggone great.
S: I especially like that the race of the characters in this book is simply a part of it without being THE part of it. So many books are "default white" and so I really like that this book is not. It's not making a huge statement or anything--the book IS about the dog after all. However it is also not making the same statement that other books unwittingly make--that picture books are aimed at white kids.
C: And this is where a little story about nothing more than a treat-loving dog (and his quasi-imaginary shark nemesis) is exactly what it should be--an adorable little tale where the humans in the story become any of us.
Although I think I might just be more like the dog than the people...I do like treats.
By Sue Conolly and Christina Moorehead