Me & Dog - Gene Weingarten (author), Eric Shansby (illustrator)
This is a story of a boy who loves his dog. And a dog who worships his boy. (Which can lead to misunderstandings.)
Meet Sid. He's an ordinary kid. He's far from perfect. But to Murphy, Sid's faithful dog, Sid is the whole world. Murphy thinks Sid is the absolute best, and that he's in charge of everything.
Sid loves Murphy right back, but he can't help but wonder what Murphy would think if he realized the truth: Sid's just a kid, and Murphy's just a dog, and neither one can control the world.
Though deceptively simple at first glance, Weingarten has written a story for children that dares to tread into the realm of existentialism and the possibility of a divine being. Sid and Murphy's relationship is used to mirror humanity's search for meaning in the world and beyond. The book starts of as a simple story of love between a boy and his dog, but eventually Sid begins to wonder: If he's not as powerful and omnipotent as Murphy thinks he is, then maybe there's nobody in charge of running the world for people? "I sometimes think there is no boss," thinks Sid, "that most thinks happen just . . . because."
Shansby's illustrations are bold and colourful, but what he manages really well is facial expressions and body language. Sid's emotions vary from extremely happy to angry to despondent, and each time his face shows the emotion fully. Murphy's body language also works to great effect, bringing Weingarten's words to life and showing the full range of emotions shared by Sid and Murphy. Who would have guessed that an existential examination of whether or not God exists could translate to well into a children's picturebook.
I'm sure there will be those who think the subject matter is too deep or that it's inappropriate (likely for religious reasons), but I think this is a great book to share with children, whether they are searching for meaning in life on their own already, or not!