CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 30. . . .April 6, 2018
Juno is a puppy who was born at the beginning of spring and who longs to be a sled dog. She knows a big dog is inside of her; she just needs to wait to grow. Puppies love to play, and just like young children, they find it difficult to sleep when itís still light outside. One night during the spring months of the midnight sun, Juno decides to sneak out of the tiny room she shares with her boy in order to explore the beautiful tundra landscape.
Kerbelís poetic detail places the reader in a calm town on top of the world at a time before anyone else is awake and where the wind is lighter than a whisper. Juno passes by sleeping families of rabbits, seals, and narwhals before encountering some of the more dangerous animals who claim the Arctic as home Ė a hungry snowy owl and a polar bear looking for dinner. When Juno remembers she left the backdoor open and her sleeping boy is now in danger, she must summon the big dog inside of her to do everything she can to save her boy from the polar bear!
Del Rizzoís textured illustrations in polymer clay pair incredibly well with the acrylic wash of the sky, creating a dreamy image of the midnight sun. Each illustration adds a new dimension to the story, encouraging readers to find hidden meaning in the illustrationís detail. For instance, when Juno becomes a valued member of a dog pack, we see the first image of a sun dog, suggesting that Juno has truly come of age in this moment.
This interesting and unique story could lead to scientific conversations with younger children about life in the Arctic, diverse tundra animals, and the sun cycles in a fun and engaging way, as well as the take-home message of displaying true bravery. In addition to the text, which depicts the romantic landscapes of the tundra and the magical feeling of being on top of the world, Kerbel also includes information on the endpapers about the majestic midnight sun and the atmospheric optical phenomenon called sun dog, both being her inspiration for Sun Dog.
Mallory Dawson is the Teen Advocate Librarian at Vaughan Public Libraries.