Review posted August 3, 2023.
Balzer + Bray, 2023. 40 pages.
Review written July 27, 2023, from a library book.
2023 Sonderbooks Stand-out:
#1 Picture Books
This picture book utterly charmed me. It may be my favorite picture book of the year so far. An Author's Note at the front says that it's based on an Aesop's fable, "But Simon gets a happier ending (he is a good boy, after all)."
From the start, we know this book is different, because you turn the book on its side to have the picture right side up. Then the pages turn from bottom to top instead of the usual side-to-side.
On the title page, we see a sweet brown tail-wagging dog digging something up. There's a pool reflecting the picture on the lower page (the bottom half of the spread), with some water bugs skating on top of the water, so you clearly understand there's water there.
As the book begins, now the pond page has the reflection and a few ducks (still reinforcing that there's water in the bottom half of the spread) and on top (reflected), the dog is proudly carrying a bone and still wagging his tail happily.
Simon was out playing by the pond when he found a bone. If there was a better bone in all the world, Simon hadn't seen it.
But then Simon spots something in the pond!
It was another bone.
A better bone.
There was a dog holding the bone. But it was a scrawny little dog.
Certainly no match for Simon.
So you can guess how the story goes -- lots of facing off with that other dog and his better bone. Posturing, challenging, growling.... Meanwhile, pond critters and other cues remind kids reading that this is Simon's reflection he's facing off with.
Finally, there's a pounce!
But yes, Corey Tabor cleverly finds a sweet way to give Simon a happy ending. Such a good dog!
Part of why I loved this book so much is that I'm a Big Sister - who did a lot of babysitting my younger siblings. (I was third of thirteen kids.) One of my favorite Big Sister Tricks was something a bunch of us discovered. We had a long mirror with a wide shelf in front of it. If you sat a baby in front of the mirror with a ball -- the baby will try to get the Other Baby's ball. Every time. They have an identical ball. But they want the Other Baby's ball. This greatly amused us older siblings.
And putting this story into this delightful picture book will give kids the joy of knowing what's really going on. I see an instant storytime classic in this book. So much fun!