Dawn Morris has used the inspiration of her real-life dogs to create a kid-friendly fantasy in her book Lolly and the Noisemakers.
Lolly is one of six small dogs that make up “The Noisemakers,” a group of dogs whose barking makes terrible noise, until Lolly suggests they actually practice their barking, structuring it into “some sort of music form” until they’re good enough to put on a real show. Their efforts are eventually rewarded with a job performing in a real circus.
The illustrations in Lolly and the Noisemakers are colorful and bright, but make heavy use of repeated images: the drawings of the dogs are flipped, enlarged, reversed, and otherwise recycled, which results in a distracting sameness to many of the picture pages and limits the visual representations of the dogs’ distinct personalities.
There are many pages near the story’s beginning describing the different dogs, but matching the dog names and descriptions to their images is difficult, and the dogs’ identities remain unclear for much too long. Individual pages with one dog’s image and description at a time, or even a single, glossary-type page with all of the dogs, would have set the stage nicely.
Morris’s text-heavy book easily could have been edited to keep the story moving faster and more clearly. There are frequent changes of tense, sometimes in the same sentence:
“One day it is The Noisemakers’ turn to be scared. All of a sudden they heard a long shuffling sound in the driveway and peeped through the window to see what it is. But it is night-time and they can’t see a thing.”
Overall, the book reads more like a pleasant story for those who know and enjoy the real-life dogs, rather than something appropriate for a wider audience meeting the Noisemakers for the first time. The story itself is cute and enjoyable, but the style of its telling will leave many readers on the outside looking in.
Also available in hardcover.