Story confronts big fears

BLACK DOG. By Levi Pinfold. For ages 4-8.

What is your biggest fear and how do you face it? In Levi Pinfold’s “Black Dog,” the Hope family’s fears are embodied in a black dog. But the cover hides any dark side and offers only a beautifully illustrated house tucked into a wintery wood. Turning the pages to see what comes next is only natural.

When Mr. Hope spots a black dog in the yard, he is struck by its large size. With each family member’s descriptions, the dog grows larger and larger. First it’s the size of a tiger, then an elephant. Finally, it grows to the size of a Big Jeffy — whatever that is.

But this story is about confronting fears, not watching them prowl around your yard. Although it’s a little expected (some might say trite), little Small Hope, the baby of the family, decides to see what all the fuss is about. She marches out to the dog and they play chase. As they run, all the “big” fears become silly little concerns that are “nothing to be afraid of.” By the time Small returns to the house, the big bad dog is just a lovable little hound.

The rich color illustrations and black-and-white thumbnail sketches add multiple layers to this imaginative tale. There is only one possible complaint for this great story time pick. Be sure your children understand not to wander away from their families and confront strange dangers lurking outside their houses.

McGeath Freeman is a columnist for Lowcountry Parent. Send email to editor@lowcountry parent.com.

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