It may not be the dog days of summer yet, but I seem to have gravitated towards stories involving dogs and other pets during my recent picture book buying spree. You’ll note that the main character in today’s Perfect Picture Book is not a dog or other animal, but dogs do play a vital role in the story. Enjoy!
Written & Illustrated By: Breanna Carzoo
Publisher/Date: Harper, an imprint of Harper Collins/2022
Suitable for Ages: 4-8
Themes/Topics: feeling unappreciated; discovering your inner hero; sharing talents
Can you see me down here?
My name is Lou, and I’m…
Brief Synopsis: A fire hydrant used as a toilet by the neighborhood dogs believes he has more to offer the world, and, when disaster strikes, he saves the day.
Links to Resources:
- Lou is a story about a fire hydrant, like those found in most cities and towns. Take a walk near your home and see what other useful things like fire hydrants you can find along the streets;
- Have you ever been called a hero? What did you do and how did it feel to be called a hero?
- Enjoy coloring fire hydrants, like Lou, here and here.
Why I Like this Book:
I walk my dogs several times a day along city streets. I think I’m fairly observant, but I confess to never having really noticed or appreciated fire hydrants, until now.
In Lou, debut author-illustrator Carzoo has created an adorable character – a fire hydrant named Lou. Surrounded by a diverse cast of dogs and owners, Lou seemingly has one role in life. Readers watch dogs sniff, twist, twirl, lift, and…you know what comes next. I know kids will, too, and I’m sure, like me, they’ll find it hilarious.
Lou knows his role as a toilet is important, but he believes he has a larger role to play. I think kids who dream of scoring the winning goal or growing up to do great things will relate to Lou’s frustrations and desires, especially those whose talents may not be readily evident now. But if, like Lou, they believe in themselves, they may find that their talents gush out at just the right time, as his do.
I won’t spoil the ending by telling you how Lou discovers his inner talents and becomes a hero, but even young kids may suspect the ending (especially with the many clues Carzoo gives readers in the illustrations).
I would be remiss not to mention that humor really adds to the appeal of Lou. Even the name, a homonym for the British slang for toilet, is hysterical, as are many of the spreads.
Lou is a delightful book for home and school reading and rereading. The primary color illustrations pop against the white background, making it easy for even very young children to follow the story. You’ll never be able to walk by a fire hydrant again without smiling and thinking of Lou!
A Note about Craft:
Using limited text and bright illustrations, Carzoo has crafted a story that will captivate readers. How did she do it, especially with an inanimate main character? I think using first-person point of view, letting Lou tell his own story, causes the reader to empathize with him from the first spread. Lou also addresses the reader directly, “can I tell you something? Just between you and me?” We’re now in on a secret, there with Lou, worrying, as he does, that he’ll never be more than a toilet. But in the illustrations, Carzoo shows what talents Lou will share, how he will be a hero, even as he worries that he’ll “never do anything more important”. Lou is a terrific mentor text for authors and/or illustrators trying to bring inanimate objects to life, to add humor to their writing, and to relay big ideas to young children.
This Perfect Picture Book entry will be added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!