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“Oh, the worlds you will discover! The adventures that await you! The pages and pages of dreamlands you’ll sail through!” –Abby Hanlon, Dory Fantasmagory: Dory Dory Black Sheep
It’s pretty obvious how much thought goes into creating each Dory Fantasmagory book. Not only does Abby Hanlon write the text and draw the illustrations, she also carefully weaves them together so that they become one whole piece. It’s like reading a long-form picture book, where the text and illustrations play off of each other, enhance each other, and even physically fit into each other.
Abby creates her illustrations with Prismacolor pencils and watercolors, but since they’re in black and white, they never steal focus from the text. Instead, Abby masterfully balances the two throughout the book. Her illustrations are expressive and full of fun details for readers to explore. The characters often speak through dialogue bubbles, giving the book a “graphic novel” tone, and there are seemingly no rules for the illustrations—they can exist in the middle of a page or bleed off the sides, and the text is often handwritten so that it is incorporated into the images.
One of the best parts of the book is that we as readers don’t just read about Dory’s imaginary life and friends—we also get to see them. And ultimately, it’s Dory’s overactive imagination that helps her learn to read in the third Dory Fantasmagory book, Dory Dory Black Sheep. We see Dory interact with Mrs. Gobble Gracker and come face to face with her fears of reading. We’re there when Dory meets George and learns that she isn’t alone in her fears of being a “baby.”
We get to witness every moment of Dory’s vulnerability and creativity and grow closer to her as a character. It helps us feel like we’re a part of her story, too, like we could reach out and join Dory in her adventures.
Dory Dory Black Sheep reminds us that we can use our imaginations to engage and enhance the world around us, and that our own stories are worth telling.
Moreover, Dory learns to read based on the interactions she has with the characters inside the books she reads, and as she learns, her imagination continues to grow. Dory Dory Black Sheep is a story about loving books and embracing the act of reading, showcasing exactly why clever and well-illustrated books are so important to children in their own reading journeys.
Be sure to check out our ALL THE WONDERS of Dory Fantasmagory post for more Dory, including a behind-the-scenes tour by author-illustrator Abby Hanlon, a sneak peek at the artwork, and a look at how Dory has touched all our hearts around the world.