03 May 2009

The Hero of Little Street

by Gregory Rogers

Allen & Unwin. Australian, Picture Book. Hardcover rrp $29.99

Guest Reviewer—Anastasia Gonis

This creation of wordless graphic art for younger children was tested on a six year-old. He examined the illustrations and verbally created the story in intricate detail, including voice tones and interjections. Was this Rogers’ intention when he chose not to include text: to challenge children’s imaginations and encourage them to use their own words to create dialogue and back-story to fit his illustrations?

The story begins with a boy intercepting a ball that came his way. A kick sends it into a fountain. He incurs the wrath of the three boys who own the ball. A chase ensues. Boy escapes into a group of people lined up with their children to enter a museum. Inside he discovers all manner of artwork. He views everything with curiosity and at all angles.

He diverts to a room of paintings by the Dutch Masters. He’s drawn to a specific picture that includes a dog. To his amazement, the dog jumps out of the picture and the new friends play together.

Boy finds a sheet of paper on the floor. Dog turns to the picture, then to boy, and they enter the frame. The sheet of paper is a music score belonging to the lady in the blue dress sitting at a pianoforte within the frame. She takes the sheet and begins to play. The woman is so overjoyed at the return of her music sheet that she gives boy a flute and ties a ribbon around dog’s neck.

They leave and enter a town where there are streets, alleys, and bridges over rivers. While boy chases dog that chases a cat, chaos reigns. Dog disappears. He finally finds dog locked up in a butcher’s shed. He frees dog but countless other canine prisoners flow out after him. He becomes a hero for saving the dogs’ lives. He takes them to the picture with the lady in the blue dress and leaves them there and exits the museum. The three bullies see him and set out after him. But the dogs hear his flute which cries for help and come to his rescue.

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