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From The Asian Reporter, V20, #9 (March 9, 2010), page 13.
Finding unexpected friendship
The Lonesome Puppy
By Yoshitomo Nara
Illustrations by Yoshitomo Nara
Chronicle Books, 2008
Hardcover, 40 pages, $17.99
By Julie Stegeman
I was always hoping for someone, somewhere, to be my friend," said the Lonesome Puppy, whose downcast eyes reflect his sadness: A sentiment most kids can identify with at one time or another in their lives.
The Lonesome Puppy, the first children’s book written and illustrated by Japanese contemporary artist Yoshitomo Nara, tells the story of this friendless Fido. The puppy’s problem, it is revealed, is that he is of such enormous size — larger even than Clifford, the famous big red dog — that no one notices him. That is, until a determined young girl scales up his leg à la Jack and the Beanstalk. Like Jack, the girl is surprised by what she finds when she gets to the top. In her case, it is the enormous eyes of the puppy, taking up two of the book’s pages. The puppy, too, is startled by his minute visitor.
Perched on top of his nose, the tiny girl sings the puppy a song and they become instant friends, much in the way of dogs and kids everywhere. The rewards of the girl’s outreach are immediate: Both human and puppy are happier now that they have found a friend in one another.
The storyline of The Lonesome Puppy, which is dedicated to "physically challenged children everywhere," is quite straightforward. The real treasure of the book is the illustrations, simply drawn in pastel colors, which bring color and life to the narration and continue on for several pages beyond the story’s end.
The incredible size of the puppy is demonstrated with pictures of him straddling countries and oceans, his legs thrusting through the clouds, while tiny ships and whales offer a reference of scale. The little girl’s efforts to climb the pup and her joy and puzzlement when she reaches the top of his back are much more vivid and far more interesting than the tale’s sparse words alone would be. Meanwhile, kids will have fun finding and talking about the small details in the illustrations.
"No matter how alone you are, there is always someone, somewhere, waiting to meet you," the book states. It’s a lovely message for adults as well as kids, not to mention lonely puppies.