A black dog shows up on a snowy morning in front of the Hope family house. One by one each family member – father, mother, and the older children – look out the windows and see the dog which seems to grow with each sighting. Mr. Hope calls the police and tells them it’s as big as a tiger. For Mrs. Hope it’s as big as an elephant. As the dog continues growing and is as large as the two-story house when the whole family, with one exception, go into hiding, cringing beneath the covers.
The exception is “the youngest member of the Hope family, called Small (for short).” Small Hope (I love that name and image) goes outside to confront the black dog who appears to be huge. Showing no fear the child leads taunts the dog to chase her saying, “You can’t follow where I go, unless you shrink, or don’t you know?” As the two run the dog shrinks until it is the size of a small terrier.
Black dog is a remarkable story about being courageous and facing fear. You don’t have to be big to be brave. Size doesn’t matter.
The illustrations are special, not just because they almost tell the story by themselves, but because just like day-to-day life, they have secrets that no one notices.