Picture Book Nook: Bad Dog Flash by Ruth Paul

I’m a sucker for a good dog story, especially when it features a very cute dog who you can’t help but love.  Bad Dog Flash is New Zealand author and illustrator Ruth Paul’s dog story.  Like her previous books, including the 2012 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards finalist book, Stomp, Ruth has proven that she can tell a fun and entertaining story using very few words and her delightful illustrations.

Bad Dog Flash is the story of a playful puppy whose games keep getting him in to trouble.  Whether it’s chasing the cat, digging a hole in the garden to hide his bone or chasing the washing on the line, he always gets told off.  However, as all dog lovers know, you can only be angry with your dog for so long, and then it’s back to giving them lots of love and affection.

Bad Dog Flash is a wonderful picture book, full of mischief and humour.  It certainly has the cute factor because I just want to pick the wee guy up and give him a cuddle.  Ruth Paul’s illustrations are soft, making Flash look fluffy and adorable, but she’s also given him loads of character.  Ruth has made Flash bouncy and full of energy (as all puppies are) and you can tell by the expression on his face and the curl of his tail that he’s happy.  Flash also has a really good guilty face.  You can tell by the way that Ruth has illustrated Flash and his actions that she is a dog person.  The way that Flash plays with his stick and the shoes is absolutely spot on.

The thing that I love the most about Ruth’s books is the way that she can tell such a wonderful story with so few words.  The text on the pages with Flash and his stick is ‘Push stick, poke stick…chew stick, chuck stick…’  Ruth could have used more words, but these eight words work so well just by themselves.  All you need are these action words and you can fill in the rest yourself.

The rhythm and rhyme of the text make the story a lot of fun to read aloud and I’m sure you’ll find the children joining in with you as repeat ‘Bad dog, Flash!’ Grab a copy of Bad Dog Flash from your library or bookshop and meet this loveable little troublemaker.


Fast Five with Ruth Paul

1. Why did you want to be a writer?

Because, well … why not? As an illustrator, being a writer also gives me more control over the total story. Plus I  have only myself to let down if I don’t illustrate the story well enough. Doing both gives me the chance to create a more unified picture book. 

2. What’s the best thing about being a writer?

Having fun with language. Having fun, full stop. Oh, and getting emails from kids and parents who’ve read my books.

3. What’s your favourite New Zealand book?

Little Rabbit and the Sea by Gavin Bishop.

4. What do you love most about New Zealand?

The space, the climate, the small population, and all the opportunity we have to create a good society and environment to live in.

5. What book changed your life?

Not a book, but stories my father told me as a child that involved all the animals in our street in an imaginary fairyland. They were funny and wicked and naughty and special. They always involved dog poo (there was a lot of that in our street). It made me love the idea of sharing stories.

Ruth Paul is both an author and an illustrator.  Some of her books include Stomp, Two Little Pirates, The King’s Bubbles and The Animal Undie Ball.

Picture Book Nook: Stomp! by Ruth Paul

Join the dinosaurs and follow the leader as they stomp, jump and hop their way through the jungle, the swamp and the river.  Children will have fun doing the actions and making the sounds as they pretend to be dinosaurs.  Those dinosaur-mad children will be able to name the different dinosaurs and can pretend they’re a T-Rex or a Triceratops.

Stomp! reminded me of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt because of the wonderful noises and actions that children can copy as you read.  I love the way that Ruth Paul has organised the dinosaurs from tallest to shortest across a double page spread.  This layout makes it easy for children to see all of the dinosaurs and look out for their favourites.  Everything is very ordered when the T-Rex is leading, but things start to fall apart when the baby dinosaurs leads on the way back home.  Ruth Paul shows us through the  illustrations that it’s good to be small, as the baby dinosaur is small enough to creep under the creepers and squeeze through the trunks.  The illustrations are bright and clear and full of plenty of humour, especially towards the end.

Stomp! is a book that can be shared with one child or many.  Everyone can make lots of noise and stomp around like dinosaurs.