When Molly Drew Dogs

Owlkids. Sept. 2019. 32p. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781771473385.
Gr 1-3–In a story loosely based on the Japanese folktale “The Boy Who Drew Cats,” a pack of wild dogs moves into young Molly Akita’s head. Unable to focus at home or school, Molly begins drawing her dogs everywhere. Everyone tries to get Molly to concentrate and be more serious. Frustrated, she runs away and becomes lost. Frightened and alone, she draws her dogs for comfort, and, in return, they come alive and protect her in the night. Xu’s illustrations are fuzzy and indistinct, with a dark palette that suits the mood. Molly’s anxiety manifests itself through her art, but other than her teacher finally allowing Molly to share her dogs, no other growth is evident. Older readers may feel let down by the lack of a fully fleshed out story. What caused the pack of dogs to move into Molly’s head? Where is the evidence that everyone searched for Molly when she gets lost? Everything but Molly drawing her dogs happens off the page. Is Molly able to focus and work now that she is able to share her art? Understanding by the teacher doesn’t balance out the mostly static characters and bare-bones storytelling.
VERDICT A serviceable but not essential book about valuing differences.

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