Too many cheeky dogs by Johanna Bell

cover image

Ill. by Dion Beasley. Allen and Unwin, 2013. ISBN 9781743316221
(Age: 3+) Recommended. Picture book. Dogs. Counting book. Using dogs as the vehicle for counting one to ten is enticingly presented here with the number of dogs increasing on each page until too many cheeky dogs cover the last few pages and have invaded the end papers. Each day the young narrator walks past a variety of things within his environment: the swimming hole, the police station, the clinic, the school, football oval, main street and finally Grandpa's camp, detailing the places he goes on each day of the week, and counting the number of dogs spied.
Dion Beasley, of the brand, Cheeky dog, has produced the sparkling illustrations with pencil and coloured pencils, giving a deceptively simple aura to the drawings. They seem childlike, but the range of different dogs and environments given is far from that. A rising artist from the Northern territory, Dion reflects his home life through the illustrations, showing the swimming hole with its preponderance of animals, including a crocodile, wild boar and snake, while the dogcatcher has a huge number of caught dogs, reflecting the number of dogs seen in Aboriginal communities, the football oval is typical of a country oval, with a fence and trees, while the store's largest offering is the section with cakes and ice cream. But we are living in the twenty first century, so cars and planes are also part of this world.
The rhythm of the tale is infectious and will invite children to predict next words as well as want to read along with the narrator. The naive illustrations will appeal to the readers, and the story will give them a sense of what life is like in some remote communities. Readers will love to spy the different animals presented, and marvel at the different attributes of the amazing array of dogs.
Fran Knight