The Picture Book Buzz

Sparky & Spike: Charles Schulz and the Wildest, Smartest Dog Ever - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

May 3, 2019

Anyone who'sever read the Sunday comics knows the cartoon Peanuts starring the beloved Snoopy, his sidekick Woodstock, and Charlie Brown.  (Or they've seen the movie, TV specials, or books).

 

But do you know about Spike - the dog on whom Snoopy is based or the child Sparky - who worked hard until he made his dream of being a cartoonist come true? This wonderful picture book biography is the story of how Sparky became one of the most beloved cartoonists around the world and his supportive, unusual hunting dog Spike. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sparky & Spike: Charles Schulz and the Wildest, Smartest Dog Ever

 

Author: Barbara Lowell

 

Illustrator: Dan Andreason

 

Publisher: Cameron Kids (2019)

 

Ages: 4-8

 

Nonfiction

 

Themes:

Biography, dogs, persistence, and graphic/comics

 

Synopsis (from Barnes & Noble):

This charming book is a story about a boy nicknamed Sparky and his beloved dog, Spike. Spike is the most amazing dog ever. He inspires Sparky to draw. Someday, Sparky will be an artist. Based on the childhood of Charles Schulz, creator of the world-renowned Peanuts comic, and the dog who inspired the most beloved dog of all—Snoopy—this book will resonate with children everywhere. Sparky & Spike includes a biographical note, as well as archival photographs of Sparky and Spike and a letter Charles Schulz wrote to the book’s illustrator, Dan Andreasen, when Andreasen was a boy.

 

Opening Lines:

Sparky’s dog, Spike, is a white dog with black spots. He’s the wildest and smartest dog ever.

Spike rings the doorbell to come inside.

He only drinks from the bathroom faucet.

And he knows more than fifty words

 

Why I Love this book:

I did not know the personal story behind the Peanuts comic and its creator Charles Shultz. 

This was such a fun biography to read and examine. Barbara Lowell and Dan Andreason did an amazing job of putting us right into the shoes of this young child as he dreams of being a cartoonist. 

Text © Barbara Lowell, 2019. Image © Dan Andreason, 2019.

 

Sparky's love of comics was inspired by his dad, encouraged by his teacher, and reinforced as the sole reason for interaction by his classmates. Persistent, he studied, practiced, and worried whether he was good enough.

 

Text © Barbara Lowell, 2019. Image © Dan Andreason, 2019.

 

Drawn with a cartoon-like style, Sparky and Spike explores the ups and downs of the first published illustration of Spike in the 1937 Ripley's Believe it or Not Sunday comics. Confirming for Charles Schultz that he had the talent to pursue a career as a cartoonist. And launched a smart, white dog, with black spots, as a world-wide phenomenon.

 

Text © Barbara Lowell, 2019. Image © Dan Andreason, 2019.

 

I LOVE the Illustrators note - a real note to a young boy - Dan Andreason - from Charles Schultz himself, suggesting that Dan draw and read as much as possible!  And now Dan is illustrating a book about his hero. It can't get better than that. Karma? Cosmic fate. Perhaps. But an excellent biography sure to inspire the next generation who dream of being illustrators or cartoonists.

 

Resources:

- try to draw a comic yourself. Here is an idea to start you out - (https://www.davisart.com/Promotions/SchoolArts/PDF/3_10-all-levels-school-studio-art-lesson-plan-how-to-draw-a-comic.pdf);

- as the book suggests "learn more about Charles M. Schulz, visit the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center in Santa Rosa, California, or online at - https://schulzmuseum.org"; or

- can you make a comic book character based on someone (human or animal) you know? [just as Snoopy is based of Spike and Charlie Brown is based on Sparky].

 

If you missed Barbara Lowell's interview on Monday, find it (here). 

 

This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.

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