Reviewed by Julie, Children's Lit. enthusiast and pop culture geek
Inspired by true events, PAINTER AND UGLY by Robert J. Blake is a story of friendship that can survive any circumstances. Raised in Alaska to take part in the Junior Iditarod, sled dogs Painter and Ugly (both named after an unfortunate mess in painting their sleeping crates) are the best of friends. They do everything together and are connected by their own code: a soft yipping noise that they use to communicate wherever they are. However, when the dogs are separated to different racing teams, they miss each other desperately—until they find a way to reunite at the big race.
Complemented by beautiful oil paintings, the text captures the landscape and spirit of Alaska. The images of snow are so beautiful and textured, making each page a wonder to examine. The book includes information about Blake’s research there, making it an interesting opportunity for children to learn about an extremely different way of life within the US. The illustrations of the dogs are particularly amazing: any dog lover will recognize the authenticity of movement, facial expressions, and diversity Blake captures in his depiction of the sled dogs. The underlying message of friendship is strong and relatable to any child, particularly those who connect with animals on a deep level.
Market: Picture Book
Violence: NoneMature Themes: None