Elspeth Lorraine

Book Reviews

November 4, 2022

"Every Dog in the Neighborhood" By Philip C. Stead and Illustrated by Matthew Cordell

Matthew Cordell is one of my favorite illustrators. His Cornbread and Poppy series is the stuff my dreams are made of. This collaboration with Philip C. Stead is yet another example of two brilliant storytellers getting together and creating magic. Louis and Grandma are civic minded citizens on separate missions to help the neighborhood. Louis decides to rectify City Hall’s lax dog census records by counting the dogs in the neighborhood. Grandma’s mission is told through illustration and I don’t want to spoil it, but she is an absolute queen and I adored her. Their hard work and relationship ends up being a blessing for the entire community and maybe one more special being.

Bits and Pieces: The artwork for this book was created using pen and ink with watercolor. Sigh. Cordell’s happy, pleasing illustrations are soothing and give you a homey feeling. You know there will be little hidden surprises in store especially for his fans. I won’t spoil them here, but if you’ve read his work you’ll most likely see some old friends. Stead is a legend for his writing and that shows here in the gentle dialogue and sweet play between Louis and his diverse set of neighbors.

Favorite Part: Louis’ hairdo, when he brushes his teeth, and when he asks Grandma for the weather report by saying “How are your knees today?” to which Grandma answers “Cloudy… but dry”. The advice to always take a walk and wear comfortable shoes is spot on for me and the only thing I would add is to take a nap too. Case in point: my goddaughter Amelia made a presentation at school on facing hard times and encouraged everyone to nap on their problems. I will be taking credit for her wisdom.

Not Sure About: Why can’t I live in this neighborhood with Grandma.

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