Everyday Hannah’s dad is waiting for her at the bus stop; a lovely moment to look forward to. But Sugar is always at the bus stop too. Sugar is a dog. Hannah is frightened of dogs. Then Sugar goes missing. She is still missing when night falls. It must be scary and lonely, thinks Hannah. Where can poor Sugar be?
Shortlisted for the 2017 Klaus Flugge Prize, this is a debut picture book of real promise. With great economy, Hannah Berube has created an absorbing, engaging story out of an everyday situation that many in her audience will recognise. Her text is simply presented, the language straightforward, concise, making effective use of repetition. Complimenting the words are the illustrations; fresh, childlike but with a subtle sophistication that combines bold lines and an understated palette. There is nothing limp or boring in the result. The visual experience does not mechanically repeat the story, it extends and enriches it – we can see Hannah’s reluctance to pat Sugar, we feel her anxiety for the lost dog, closing our eyes with her. Berube’s use of space is perfect providing variety and drama, making use of the whole page and mirroring the story in a way that engages the reader at every level. Here is a picture book creator to watch. This book is a treat.