Author/Illustrator: Suzanne Bloom
Publisher: Boyds Mills Press
Word Count: Approx. 160
Author Suzanne Bloom is amazing. She managed to pack so much fun into her book Oh! What a Surprise! and it’s just 160 words long! Of course, I think it helps to also be the illustrator because you will know exactly how much of the story you want to convey through the pictures. I own this book and I love all of Suzanne Bloom’s “Goose and Bear” books. I highly recommend them all. You may have heard of A Splendid Friend Indeed (2005), which I believe was the first in the series, and is a Theodor Seuss Geisel honor book.
I could have chosen Character as the top picture book element in today’s PB 14:14 challenge post about Oh! What a Surprise!, as the little fox character easily steals the show and is just so darn adorable. But I decided to go with Dialogue because the entire story is told through dialogue. That’s right, the entire story is told through the dialogue of our three sweet friends, Goose, Bear, and Fox, although, Fox does most of the talking.
In a lot of stories, I don’t think this would work, but in Oh! What a Surprise! it does. The interaction between the characters is flawless. Bear and Goose have the patience of saints when it comes to dealing with their rambunctious friend Fox. Here’s some of the wonderful dialogue:
Fox: I love surprises! Can I see? Can I help? Is it for me? If it’s for me, it’s too long!
Bear: It’s not for you.
Fox: Oh. That’s OK.
Fox: Is it for Goose? Goose doesn’t like surprises. Besides, Goose is busy.
Fox: Goose is making something. Maybe that’s for me. I’ll go see.
The dialogue and illustrations truly go hand in hand as you can see the wonderful expressions on Fox’s face: dismay, sadness, joy, and even matter-of-factness (is that a word?) when he informs Bear that Goose doesn’t like surprises and is busy.
Oh! What a Surprise! is a great example for studying dialogue use in picture books.