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Matthew Van Fleet
Putting on the dog
Aw, doggone it, who could resist the latest adorable offering from popular author-illustrator Matthew Van Fleet? The creator of the children's bestsellers Fuzzy Yellow Ducklings and Tails has produced a new interactive book so cute it might even appeal to cat people. The irresistible pooches in Dog have fuzzy tails to stroke, soft ears that flop and icky, sticky tongues. The book's flaps and tabs will delight little hands as dogs shake their heads and wag their tails on command. In the rhyming text, Van Fleet cleverly incorporates linguistic lessons into the fun. Kids will barely notice that they're learning opposites and action words while they're petting fuzzy tails and pulling tabs.
For the first time, Van Fleet uses animal photos rather than drawings to illustrate his work. Collaborating with photographer Brian Stanton, he managed to get whippets, pugs and even a Jack Russell terrier to sit still long enough to be captured by the camera (no easy task, as this Jack Russell owner can testify). Our favorite spread is a howler in which Van Fleet lets readers (and young listeners) mentally complete the final line of his verse:
For those whose imagination fails to fill in the blank, the adjoining photograph shows a bulldog standing next to a small tree. When a flap is pulled, the dog lifts one hind leg into the air, giving him a clear shot at the tree trunk.
Fittingly, the dog's nemesis makes an appearance on the final flap, as a wary cat sitting high in a tree surveys a crowd of eager canines below. The cat may be the only creature around who doesn't want to dive in and join the action in this shaggy, tail-wagging menagerie.