Kate Prendergast, Dog on a Train: the special delivery, Old Barn Books/Walker Books Australia, 1 Oct 2015, 24pp., $24.99 (hbk), ISBN: 9781910646083
This wordless picture book tells the tale of an enterprising dog who chases after a boy who has dropped his hat. When the boy gets on a train before the dog can catch up he follows into a strange world of platforms, escalators, train seats, and crowds; finally ending in an enormous concourse.
Like all wordless picture books you have to read each picture very carefully to get the full sense of what is happening. Prendergast has used black and white pencil throughout with red used very sparingly only for the hat and the boy’s shoes. This cleverly allows the reader to spot the boy on the page no matter how distant he is and also keeps attention on the dog with the hat. The splendid beginning is full of life and energy and movement. The reader immediately identifies with the dog and his quest. He is a little white thing; I didn’t recognize the breed, full of expression and very intelligent. He stops at the bottom of the escalators near the sign that says ‘Dogs must be carried’ until a friendly girl takes him up. He is also polite and considerate – giving up his seat on the train to an elderly woman.
This book provides a charming and enjoyable account of a city commute. The story is slight but each page is full of lively incident, the drawing is naturalistic with subtle use of light and shadow and the focus is always on the dog and the all-important hat. Obviously this story leads into discussions on topics such as trains, helping, and pets. Walker Books has some classroom ideas available for those interested.
Reviewed by Mia Macrossan