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A BOY, A BALL, AND A DOG by Gianna Marino


by Gianna Marino ; illustrated by Gianna Marino

Pub Date: June 21st, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-62672-287-3
Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

A game of catch between a boy and his dog takes an unexpected turn.

A dark-brown–haired, light-skinned, barefoot boy plays with his playful pooch. Happy in their routine, they race across pastureland, with barns, cows, and blooming trees as backdrop. But when a red balloon becomes their ball, and a strong wind rises, a new challenge arises. Across their picturesque town and over the pier it flies, until the white pup saves it. Realizing his boy is not near, he lets out a mournful howl—and the fickle wind takes the balloon back to the boy, and all are reunited. Short, simple sentences narrate the characters’ physical and emotional arcs. The artwork, done in a water-based medium, feels like a folk journey, with its pastoral setting and honest interpretation of the imagery. Through it, the artist explores point of view with different angles and perspectives. With trees bending, blossoms floating, and laundry flapping with each gust of wind, the canine’s chase across spreads is cinematic. This, combined with the vitality and vibrancy of the red balloon, recalls the classic short film The Red Balloon (1956). However, here—as the boy, high in his treehouse silhouetted against the bright sun, makes a catch—loved ones return, and all is restored.

A glad frolic, perfect for a windy day.

(Picture book. 4-7)