Reviews for Hot Dog

by Doug Salati

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Cool ocean breezes prove to be the perfect antidote to city burnout in this loving doggy tale. On a hot summer’s day in a metropolis reminiscent of New York, a middle-aged human and a wiener dog run errands. But today the little dog is feeling overwhelmed by the crowds and the heat. Spare text reveals their unhappiness: “too close! too loud! too much! THAT’S IT!” The dog digs in their heels, refusing to go any further. The owner sympathizes and immediately whisks the little dog away. Not simply off the streets, but from a train to a boat to an island, “wild and long and low.” After a day playing by the sea (and encountering what turns out to be a seal), they return to the city, where the world has cooled down and the two can come home to dinner and a sleep filled with dreams of seals. Salati expertly captures the stifling claustrophobia of hot and crowded city streets. One can almost feel the palpable temperature shift when the colors on the pages move from vibrant oranges, reds, and yellows to blues and greens, like a tonal reprieve. Happily, the book avoids demonizing cities in favor of the country, showing instead how a bad day affects your every sense. Spare poetic text also perfectly captures this small canine’s mindset. The dog’s human presents as White; other characters are diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.) You needn’t be a dog owner to identify with this expertly wrought tale of physical and emotional relief. (Picture book. 3-6) Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Horn Book
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

It's a hot time in the city. A small, low-slung pup greets the morning from the window of a narrow NYC brownstone. But as the dog's day unfolds, it all becomes too much. "City summer / steamy sidewalks... / crowds close in... / too loud / too close / too much!" Fortunately, the dog's devoted owner understands. She breaks off her round of errands mid-crosswalk, picks up her dog, and takes a taxi, then a train, and finally a ferry to an island, "wild and long and low," where the pair enjoys an idyllic beach day. The dog runs and runs, chases waves, delivers shells and stones to its owner, digs holes; the woman relaxes under an umbrella. Restored, they return to the city in the evening, now able to cherish its many pleasures -- skateboarders in the park, street pretzels, a fruit stand. "What a day for a dog!" Minimal, impressionistic free-verse text beautifully sets scenes and conveys character and emotion, expertly matched by the illustrations. Claustrophobic vertical panels, angular lines, and hot oranges, reds, and yellows (of the city) give way to expansive, sometimes full-spread horizontal panels and cool blues and greens (of the island escape). In the end, back home in the woman's small walk-up apartment, our doggo settles down for the night, "ready to leap / into a deep / ocean / sleep." Entirely delightful; a breath of fresh air from start to finish. (c) Copyright 2023. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Set on one sizzling summer day, this remarkable slice-of-life story, a solo debut, stars a copper-hued, city-dwelling dachshund—the titular hot dog. In pencil, gouache, and digital spreads that have a candid feel, Salati (Lawrence in the Fall) captures the city’s crush, and the dog’s plunking down in the center of a crosswalk, refusing to move. But the hound’s human—a white-skinned individual who wears glasses and a fanny pack—knows just what they need. The two grab a cab, then board a train and a ferry. As the images transition from warm to cool colors, and the text moves from vertically set staccato lines to horizontal fare, the duo arrive at “an island... wild and long and low,” where, at last, “a pup can run.” Full spreads open out onto luxurious stretches of ocean, sand, and reeds, where the two share a blissful afternoon. As the dog scavenges and the human rests, vignettes capture the joy of companions who are utterly relaxed in the other’s presence. And when the setting sun precipitates a return home, the gentle introduction of urban blues and greens suggest a better balance as “everyone/ cools/ down.” Employing snapshots of city life that create a strong sense of place, Salati makes smart use of the picture book format to craft a calming portrait of escape and renewal. Ages 4–8. Agent: Erica Rand Silverman, Stimola Literary. (Apr.)