Alfie likes to play.
He thought the chickens liked tag too.
He only wanted to say hi to the pigs.
He didn’t want to fall in the mud.
Alfie, No!, a delightful picture book that would be suitable for reading aloud to a small child, is the story of a boy and his dog that both get dirty playing. The reader is given the task of deciding who is Alfie, and the assumption all along is that Alfie is the dog. For instance, the boy and his dog are seen at breakfast, and there are images of several incidents where they knock over a bowl of oatmeal, then a milk carton and proceed to get blueberry jam on their faces. When the two of them open the fridge door, a grown-up cries out, “Alfie, No”. Wishinsky doesn’t reveal who Alfie is until the end of the book.
Frieda Wishinsky describes the interactions between the boy and his dog in an entertaining and imaginative way that is also very humorous. The human characters in the book are a child, his parents and a grandmother, but the main action revolves around the child and his pet dog. Excitement builds with each page and via the dialogue from the adults in the book.
Frieda Wishinsky is a skilled international award-winning writer of over sixty books in various genres. Her book Each One Special (www.umanitoba.ca/cm/vol11/no7/eachonespecial.html was nominated for the Governor General’s Literary Award and Please Louise ( www.umanitoba.ca/outreach/cm/vol14/no1/pleaselouise.html ) was nominated in 2008 for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award and won the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award.
Emma Pedersen is very successful in synchronizing her humorous illustrations with the text. Her choice of gouache as her illustrating medium was a good decision since the colours are vibrant and pop out at the reader. The language of the text is simple and clear and words spoken by the adults are in larger font that emphasizes their reactions to the mischievous adventures of the two buddies. The physical book, itself, is very attractive with a bright blue cover. The dog prints on the endpapers give the impression that this book is about playing and reinforce the misdirection that Alfie is the dog.
Alfie, No! is an exceptional book that would provide reading joy for both parent and child.
Janet Johnson, a retired librarian, taught Children’s Literature courses for the Library Technician Program at Red River College in Winnipeg, Manitoba.