Prepared to be shocked and moved in equal measure by this sad story of an abandoned dog.
The book tells its story in spare yet hugely expressive black-and-white line drawings, created by Gabrielle Vincent, a Belgian writer and illustrator. is better known for the much-love children’s series Ernest and Celestine, about a big kindly bear and a feisty little mouse.
A Day, A Dog – originally entitled Un Jour, Un Chien – is entirely different from the tender Ernest and Celestine series though. In fact it barely qualifies as a children’s picturebook at all, as its subject matter is much darker and more suited to a young adult or even an adult audience.
The initial image alone, which shows the dog being jettisoned from a car window, is heart-breaking. And, as the animal’s situation deteriorates from there, it goes from bad to worse, especially when we realise the creature is the unwitting cause of a serious car accident. True, a small glimmer of hope glints at the reader towards the end, but even this is ambiguous.
The rapid charcoal sketches are exquisitely drawn and effectively convey both speed and mood. As the dog’s plight changes over the course of the book, they portray his turbulent emotions – and stir our own, too.
The book has dual publication dates of 1982 and 1999, the first for Editions Duculot, Paris and the second for Casterman SA Tournai, Belgium. This English edition is from the publisher Front Street, Asheville, North Carolina.