Boot & Shoe

October 2012. 40p. 978-1-44242-224-6.
PreS- Gr 3–Littermates and fellow adoptees, two small pups share a mutual existence, eating from the same bowl, sleeping on same blue cushion, and tinkling on the same tree. However, they diverge in their daytime activities: Boot occupies the back porch while Shoe prefers the front porch. When a mischievous squirrel shakes up their routines, both dogs give chase, eventually collapsing, exhausted, into two separate heaps. After recovering, they search for one another, each taking up the other’s post to wait for his sibling’s return. Their vigils last through rainy afternoon, hungry evening, and shivery night, with morning bringing only more loneliness. Fortunately, “even in the worst of times, a dog still needs to pee,” and the two finally meet up at their favorite tree for a joyful reunion. There is genius in this tale’s simplicity and Frazee’s understated text, repetitive language, and sentence structure, and perfect comic timing play the heartwarming humor to the hilt. The pencil-and-gouache artwork, set against creamy French vanilla backdrops, blends precise lines with fluid motion, and the muted colors subtly mirror the narrative’s restraint and changing moods. The snow-white pooches, with their black button noses and eyes hidden by furry fringe, are true charmers, and their emotions are masterfully conveyed through eloquent body language. A dog-lover’s delight and tender ode to friendship.
Boot and Shoe are two dogs with a lot in common. They started out as littermates, and were adopted into the same household. They eat out of the same dish, sleep in the same bed, and pee on the same tree. They even look alike, except for the distinctive markings in their paws. Their only real difference is that Boot spends his days on the back porch (he’s a "back porch kind of dog") and Shoe passes time in the front. After a pesky squirrel gets both dogs riled up enough to give chase, they each end up on the wrong porch -- then decide to sit down and wait for the other. After passing a long, miserable, rainy night alone and out of place, the two finally meet up again at their favorite tree: "even in the worst of times, a dog still needs to pee." The sprightly lines of Frazee’s black-pencil and gouache illustrations add to the humor of this nimble tale of misplaced assumptions, which is reminiscent of the physical comedy of a Buster Keaton movie and just as entertaining. kathleen t. horning

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