BALL BY MARY SULLIVAN (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013)
From a first glance at the cover, the sense is that this book is going to deliver some laughs. Dogs lying on their backs look so vulnerable and, well, silly, and this one cannot take his eyes off of his ball. The ball. What is it about balls that make dogs go so bonkers? It’s a toy, yes, but it also is a connection with their human. A ball dropped at a human’s feet means, “Play with me, pleeeeeez” and the message is so packed with neediness that one can never turn them down. This single-mindedness obsession is evident on the first page where our dog is waking up in his little girl’s bed with a ball already in his mouth. As she dresses for school she throws the ball every chance she gets. But he knows what it means when she walks out that door and the expression on his face with a clock on the wall behind him shows how desperate he is for ‘ball!” He tries to play with mom, baby, cat, and even clothes hamper. Not so much fun. He finally falls asleep and dreams of “ball!” When he hears movement near the front door he goes apoplectic as he anticipates his little girl coming in to play “ball!” This wordless picture books needs absolutely no words because EVERYTHING is in the illustrations. This is a wonderful adventure with a wonderfully insane dog and kids who know and love dogs will love it.