Black Dog
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Black Dog

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  719 ratings  ·  189 reviews
An enormous black dog and a very tiny little girl star in this offbeat tale about confronting one’s fears.

When a huge black dog appears outside the Hope family home, each member of the household sees it and hides. Only Small, the youngest Hope, has the courage to face the black dog, who might not be as frightening as everyone else thinks.
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published September 25th 2012 by Templar (first published November 1st 2011)
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Go, Dog. Go! by P.D. EastmanClifford the Big Red Dog by Norman BridwellHarry the Dirty Dog by Gene ZionGood Dog, Carl by Alexandra DayFetch by Adam Glendon Sidwell
Picture Books About Dogs
83rd out of 205 books — 80 voters
Winter's Bone by Daniel WoodrellThe Winter Child by Terri WindlingTruly, Madly, Deeply by Faraaz KaziPrickle Moon by Juliet MarillierCold Quiet Country by Clayton  Lindemuth
Winter Reads 2012/13
8th out of 75 books — 4 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,106)
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Lisa Vegan
What shone here for me were the unique and lush illustrations, both the large and colorful ones and the miniature gray tone ones. I love their intricacies and their style. Just lovely and fun to view. The pictures make the book, and they’re worth the read.

The story and its message about fear and lack thereof/facing fear is okay. Actually, I’d recommend this mostly to dog lovers, many of all ages who might find this book humorous, although I suppose it could make for a good read or gift for anyon...more
Jul 18, 2013 Kate rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: K-3rd
Wonderful story about how fear can cause something to grow out of proportion and about confronting fears. The name of the heroine, Small Hope, is a little obvious but works nonetheless.

So much to explore, so many details, in the illustrations from the small panels on each of the two-page spreads to the large color illustration (except for when Small first meets the Black Dog, which of course needs to dominate the two pages). Warm colors for the interiors help convey the coziness and safety of th...more
Karen A.
Four stars for the illustrations. Which are a fantastic mix of Grimm, Bosch, and American Gothic. They really set the mood and make the fear of the big black dog seem very real. Only three stars for the story. It is also fun and I like that Small is the one to go out and face the big dog. But her little song and the subsequent shrinking of the dog did not quite make sense. Being a silly story juxataposed against such beautifully atmospheric illustrations may be the point - but it felt like the a...more
I see a lot of reviews regarding facing one's fears, and I definitely see that in the book. But there is a story in the dog that is happening concurrent with Small's fearless actions.

I see the dog as the pursuit of love, of family, of belonging. He was, after all, a stray that happened by. The first thing he did when he saw Small was he put his big face right down in front of her and snuffed at the little girl. For those of us that are dog lovers, we know a good snuff communicates a lot. When m...more
May 03, 2014 Dolly rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
Shelves: 2014, childrens
This is an odd, but entertaining story about a family who perceives a dog to be bigger and bigger until the smallest child finally goes out to meet him. It is a wonderful tale about confronting fears and how some things can appear to be more terrible than they really are.

The narrative is fairly short, filled with dialogue and rhyming little couplets. But the highlight of the book are the wonderful illustrations. Most of the two-page spreads have a full page of color illustrations, paired with s...more
When the Hope family woke up one morning there was a great big black dog outside. Mr. Hope thought it was the size of a tiger and called the police who advised him to just stay inside. Mrs. Hope compared it to an elephant and the family shut the lights off so it wouldn’t know they were there. Adeline woke up and saw a black dog the size of a T-Rex outside the window. She closed the curtains. Maurice woke up and thought it was the size of a Big Jeffy, deciding to stay under the covers. But the li...more
When this family wakes up one morning, they are frightened by large black dog outside their home. The appears to them to be bigger than their house. Too terrified to assess or deal with the dog situation, the family cowers inside until the youngest child gets up and tackles the problem head on. The black dog follows her as she runs around the house and through the woods, gradually decreasing in size (as her own fear decreases?). By the time they come back home again, the dog is regular-dog-size...more
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
An odd story about how fear magnifies what it is you fear. Each family member in this tale looks outside and sees a black dog that gets bigger and bigger as their fear of it increases. Only one little girl isn't afraid to confront it. What happens to her? Read and find out!

I loved the detailed illustrations here. A little green toy octopus, assorted cats, little figurines also looking scared, and carved toy owls are a few of the objects strewn about and peeking around corners. The house has a co...more
1. I confess to a great deal of sentimentality here: my two beloved 100+ pound black dogs are no longer with me, but when they were still alive, they definitely frightened people. In reality, they were HUGE teddy bears who liked nothing better than to sit on your lap and cuddle.

2. The illustrations are amazing in this book: details, rich colors, perspective--it's all here. Every time I read it, I notice something new.

3. The approach: I love that the parents are part of the group that's afraid o...more
(this review originally appeared on my blog )

The Hope family gets up one morning to discover a stray, black dog outside their home. As each member of the family sees it, his size grows larger and larger, through their own fear and lively imagination. They cower fearfully from the massive beast, only the smallest of all, Small Hope, dares to go outside to see it up close. "You're all sillies," she proclaims. The dog is indeed very, very large, but Small leads it...more
Lisa Tonge
Black Dog is one of those children's books which adults want to own. Beautifully drawn, and a wonderfully written story, it tells the tale of family haunted by the sudden appearance of a mysterious black dog, which grows bigger the more members of the family become afraid or worried by it. It's not until the youngest member of the family confronts it does it shrink down to a normal size. It's a wonderful story which children, particularly those children prone to worry should read. The moral is b...more
Lovely story about a couple of different things. One is about seeing the world through fear. A stray dog comes to a house and each family member who sees it thinks it's bigger and bigger, until they are barricading themselves behind the furniture, trying to make sure the apparently T-Rex size dog doesn't know they're home. The other is about the power of love and acceptance to overcome fear. But really, for us, the story was about the sweet collection we can have with animals, especially animals...more
Age: Preschool-Kindergarten

An excellent book on fears and their ability to get more and more frightening if you don't face them head on. An extra star for the semi-graphic novel features of this book with smaller vignettes before the full page picture.
Paul Farbman
Feb 03, 2014 Paul Farbman rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: I wouldn't necessarily recommend this book
Recommended to Paul by: Terry Benton
There are several positive and negative points in this book. The story involves a family's reaction to a big black dog who shows up outside of their house.

The parents and older siblings react to the dog in unrealistic ways, such as calling the police, hiding under the covers, and turning out the lights so that the dog won't know that they're home. The youngest child decides to go outside and play with the big dog.

One confusing aspect of the book was how the dog shrunk down to normal size by the...more
Danica Midlil
Pretty cute. Love the picture of mom in her onesie jammies!
Did you notice: the knitting needles and yarn? the one lime green octopus found on many pages inside the house? The Totorro figurine? the illustration of Big Jeffy?
Interesting premise! Is the dog REALLY that big? If it is, how did Small know what to do?

I thought of Shaun Tan when I saw these illustrations...Lots to look at, with some very fanciful details.
Susan Heskin
Dec 12, 2013 Susan Heskin rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Susan by: Kelly Braun
The 2nd graders LOVED this book. We had a fun time afterward wondering if the dog became a pet, and what they would name the dog.
Small Hope, the youngest and smallest character in this story, has the most courage in her family. While all of her family members hide, she goes outside to visit the mysterious, black dog. Pinfold's message in this story is to not let our fears get the best of us; often something we perceive to be fearful has been largely blown out of proportion. The illustrations are fantastic and make this story. You'll spend time studying the incredible details and if you're sharing it with children, they'll...more
Best new children's book out there! The illustrations are wonderful!!!
Liz Voorheis
Beautiful illustrations; Picture book for older readers.
I saw this one on a card waiting to be shelved the other day and had to pick it up. I really, really liked it. A man wakes up to a "huge" black dog in his yard. He calls the police who don't seem too concnerned about his panic. He decides to hide from the dog as does each consecutive family member who see it as bigger and bigger (and, of course, scarier and scarier). Then comes the youngest who knows just what to do. The story ends with child and big scary dog cuddling by a lit fire. I loved the...more
A large black dog appears outside the Hope family house in the woods one snowy morning. Mr. Hope the first to see it is so alarmed that he drops his breakfast (much to the delight of the family cats) on the floor and shouts that he calls the police to tell them that it’s as big as a tiger! Next Mrs. Hope sees it out the window and proclaims it to be the size of an elephant. As the older Hope children awake, the dog gets bigger and bigger until the whole family is cringing under the covers in fea...more
Pinfold, Levi. (2011) Black dog. Somerville, MA: Templar Books.

*Kate Greenaway Medal for illustrations

Full of terrific illustrations, this book teaches us to stand up to our fears. It is an interesting read aloud to students as young as 7 and up to grades 3 or 4. Did I like it? I’m a bit conflicted actually. I loved the illustrations but the story wasn’t enough. I didn’t feel like I knew any of the characters very well, yet they looked so interesting in the pictures. I want more.

I have found th...more
Originally reviewed on

Black Dog is the deserved winner of this year’s CILIP Kate Greenaway medal, a prize awarded for distinguished illustration in a children’s book, and delivers a story centred on the issue of overcoming fear and gaining perspective.

This stunning yet simple allegory focusses on the Hope family and the appearance of a mysterious black dog outside their house that grows larger and more menacing with each family member’s encounter. Whilst the...more
I love the cover. It is mysterious and intriguing, with it's soft, hazy hues and old-style charm that makes you want to walk right into the scene and find out what this book is all about.

Levi Pinfold's illustrations are eerie and gothic feeling. They are very detailed with subtle, muted colours. The style is similar to Brett Helquist's illustrations in Lemony Snicket's " A series of Unfortunate Events." The rich paintings adorn each page and you are invited in to have a peek at the old fashione...more
Emily Stueven
As an allegory, this is a deceptively simple little story. The Hope Family spy a strange black dog outside their warm, glowing house one day--first father, then mother, then their three young children. As each Hope sets eyes on the dog, his/her assessment of its size and dreadfulness grows, until they are cowering under beds and blankets, terrified of the dangerous animal. But the youngest, Small Hope, sees the black dog for what he is: just a dog who wants to be loved. As she engages with him,...more
Black Dog is the story of the Hope family. On a snowy day, each Hope sees the titular black dog outside their window. And with each new viewing, the black dog appears bigger and bigger, by far eclipsing the size of their home. As the Hope family cowers in their house, their youngest, appropriately named Small, catches sight of the dog. Despite her family's warnings, she goes outside to approach the dog. Quickly, the dog shrinks in size until he's just a regular size, and the family sees that the...more
I’ve found myself unable to visit my cousin's kids without a picture book gift in hand. It’s too much fun to make the selection, and beside that, I get to read a(nother) book! This is how I discovered Levi Pinfold’s charming Black Dog.

Black Dog opens with a… black dog. A rather large one. The dog is sniffing around the Hope house on a snowy winter morning when Mr. Hope spots it – and is alarmed – the dog is the size of a tiger! As the rest of the family wake up, one by one, their exclamations o...more
2013 ALSC Notable winners

Pinfold, Levi. Black Dog. Somerville, MA: Templar Books, 2012. Print. 32 p.

The Hope family wakes up to find a big black dog outside their home. The dog seems to grow, as does the fear of it, as each family member sees the dog. Mr. Hope first describes the dog as the size of a tiger, and then lastly it is described as the size of a dinosaur. The whole family learns what courage means when the youngest family member, Small, is brave enough to go outside and run around wit...more
The book jacket is absolutely necessary and mesmerizing. At first I couldn’t find the copyright info, but then discovered it on the cover behind the jacket flap. The jacket cover is sparkly and reflective, yet the book cover itself is interesting and amusing, but it is the art that leaves me awestruck. Looking at a picture online of the cover I never would have expected the cover in person nor the illustrations within. The mixture of small sepia picture-stories with the full page color illustrat...more
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Levi Pinfold’s first book, The Django, was long-listed for the Kate Greenaway Medal in the U.K. A wanderer at heart, Levi Pinfold lives in Brisbane, Australia.
More about Levi Pinfold...
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