- Trouper by Meg Kearney
Trouper started out as a street dog, running with a pack of mutts and dodging the rocks of taunting kids. Then the three-legged Lab-type pooch and his friends get nabbed by Animal Control and put up for adoption, and everybody in the pack finds a home before Trouper. Finally, though, a young boy takes Trouper to his heart and to his home, where they revel in a life together and outings where they “leave five footprints in the snow.” There’s obvious sentimentality here (“My heart was a cold, starless night”), but the spare text, occasionally patterned with subtle rhymes, gives it maximum effect with minimal flourish. The human portraiture is sometimes awkward, but Lewis’ translucent, light-filled watercolors offer eloquent doggy portraiture, with Trouper sprawling inelegantly and adorably on his back or peering over the edge of the bed with his ears at an irresistible droopy angle. Compositions, especially those drawing on the geometry of the chain-link kennels, are creative and dramatic, while the play of light and dark maximizes the touchability of Trouper’s soft black coat. Get ready with a bouncy follow-up and some Kleenex, because this will move animal-loving kids from tears of grief to tears of joy.