Solo lives on an island where he knows everyone and everything. He considers himself a VERY important dog, but his isolated world offers few surprises until the arrival of a boatload of daytrippers and their hounds, who race around the island upending the natural order and making free with all that Solo holds dear, including his dinner, ball and stick.
“This is MY island!” barks Solo. “And those are my SPECIAL things….”
Luckily, dogs don’t hold grudges, and as Solo learns that sharing is worth the effort, his change of heart brings friendship, fun and games.
Adam Beer’s observations of doggy behaviour are spot-on in this enjoyable and well-crafted picturebook, and young readers will enjoy the spectacle of dogs inventing their own rules, far from human eyes and ears. Stories exploring the ups and downs of friendship are important for young children, and the message in Solo is clear without being overdone: friends are fun, and it’s worth making an effort to make and keep them. However, there’s no suggestion that the company of others is always preferable to individual pursuits – Solo remains willing and able to enjoy time spent alone, and this is a welcome aspect of the story.
Solo’s expressive features and body language give children plenty to decode and enjoy in these pictures. Adam’s experience as a storyboard artist in the animation, TV and games industries is evident in the narrative energy, physicality and strong characterization throughout, and much is happening in the artwork that isn’t mentioned in the text. Adam’s dogs are stylized, but capture the essence of real life, and his cheerful illustrations and friendly, minimal text will appeal to families who are less confident around books, as well as those that share them regularly.
Adam Beer previously illustrated Mammoth by Anna Kemp (published by Simon and Schuster in 2021) but Solo is his author-illustrator debut.