While checking out picture books at my local bookstore, I ran across two fun books: The Amazing Hamweenie (Philomel 2012) by Patty Bowman and Boot & Shoe (Beach Lane Books, 2012) by Marla Frazee. While each of these books is as different as cats are to… err… dogs. The root similarities in these books should serve as a lesson for picture book authors.
Dressed in his signature top hat and black cape, Hamweenie is poised to earn his place among the most famous celebrities and daredevils of all time. From the stage to the red carpet, the skies to the sea, Hamweenie believes, without a doubt, that he will be the greatest star the world has ever seen.
The horrors of reality, alas, befall him: a beautiful apartment, a loving little girl, his every need fulfilled to excess. His treats are simply too delicious. His pillows? Beyond luxurious. Such torture! Hamweenie must escape! But with his wretchedly wonderful owner appearing at every turn, will he ever ma
ke it out of the apartment? From debut author and illustrator Patty Bowman comes a picture book about the secret life of cats and about dreaming big–no matter what your species.
Boot and Shoe were born into the same litter, and now they live in the same house. They eat out of the same bowl, pee on the same tree, and sleep in the same bed. But they spend their days apart—Boot on the back porch because he’s a back porch kind of dog, and Shoe on the front porch because he’s a front porch kind of dog. This is exactly perfect for them. But then a crazy neighborhood squirrel arrives . . . and everything goes topsy-turvy!
1. Both of these books are enjoyable stories filled humor and charm.
2. Both feature illustrations that compliment the stories. Ms. Bowman’s illustration serve as humorous punctuation to the dry humor in the story. Ms. Frazee’s spare drawings help to accentuate the love and humor residing in the text.
Now to the nitty gritty.
The Amazing Hamweenie is a cat book. Filled with dry humor and a little bit of aloofness. Ms. Bowman has captured the feline personality and infused it in her work. This is what makes the story work.
Boot & Shoe is hands down a dog book. Those rough and tumble puppies roll right off of the page and into your heart.
The success of each of these books lies in the fact that the author has captured the essence of the animal they are writing about. This helps the reader connect with the story. I see a little of my own dog when I read Boot & Shoe.
Each of these books would do well for reading time at home or in a school setting.
Writing on the Sidewalk