Monday, April 28, 2008

Tupelo rides the rails by Melissa Sweet - review

Tupelo rides the rails by Melissa Sweet
Melissa Sweet is a prolific illustrator whose work I have admired in a lot of different contexts. The Boy Who Drew Birds and Girls Think of Everything were both considerably enhanced by her work.

I didn't ever get a chance to see the first book she wrote herself, Carmine, so I was glad to bring home Tupelo Rides the Rails, and I'm super-glad to report it is just as charming and heartfelt as her watercolor and mixed-media illustrations.

Tupelo is an abandoned dog (sad!) who falls in with a pack of other strays who call themselves the BONEHEADS. Each dog is hoping for a home, and, with the help of a hobo named Garbage Pail Tex, each one finds one - except Tupelo (sad!). In the end, Tupelo is adopted by Garbage Pail Tex, and they settle in for a life riding the rails together (happy!).

There are lots of sturdy fold-outs and lots of dog characters, each with a distinctive look and voice. You can tell Melissa Sweet really likes dogs. Although Tupelo is a bit text-heavy, my kids sat still for the whole thing and even asked for it again.

Endpaper bonus: gorgeous old maps of the heavens and a timeline of canine history (in dog years).

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