What Faust Saw.
Written and Illustrated by Matt Ottley.
Rydalmere, NSW, Australia: Hodder, 1995. 32pp, cloth, $19.95.
Distributed in Canada by Raincoast Books.
Preschool - grade 2 / Ages 2 - 7.
Review by Diane Fitzgerald.
One night Faust woke up, looked out the window and . . . saw something
He tried to wake up Mum . . . and Isabelle . . . and
Clayton . . . even Dad. But they didn't seem to want to WAKE
What Faust Saw is Australian writer, illustrator, and
composer Matt Ottley's second picture book. Faust is a large hound dog
who wakes up at night to see invaders from outer space land and start to
creep about town. The invaders are truly, inventively, alien -- a mix-up
of plants, dinosaurs, bugs, and pretty much everything else -- and comic
rather than frightening or bizarre.
Good dog that he is, Faust tries to wake his masters -- he brushes
his ears on their faces, sits on their heads, licks their feet, even
pulls the covers off the bed. Nothing works until Faust begins howling in
But waking the family just makes things worse, because the invaders
hide whenever anyone but Faust is looking. Children will be amused by the
illustrations that clearly show the huge aliens -- some as large as a
brontosaurus -- hiding behind fences, hedges, even other houses, while
Dad, out on the lawn in his pyjamas, looks in all the wrong directions.
Fed up with Faust's seemingly irrational behaviour, his family puts him
outside for the night. Where the aliens are.
Faust decides to run away ("Then they'd be sorry"), but the
aliens pursue him until he finally turns and barks at the them to "Go
away!" The aliens are taken aback, but Faust's bark is so loud that
it attracts the attention of the dog-catcher, who impounds him, where he
is, at least, safe for the night. . . .
In the morning when his family comes to get him, "Faust decided to
forgive them and go home. He also decided that the next time he woke up
and saw something strange . . . he would go back to sleep."
Children, so often unable to communicate their reality to adults,
will enjoy identifying with Faust. And any child fond of animals will
appreciate the illustrations; Faust is not only an excellent comic
character but a very well-observed dog.
Ottley's aliens are just as well done -- weird enough to show why
they would alarm Faust, but appealing and funny in their own right. The
illustrations in general (done as oil-paintings) are full of comic detail
that will continue to give even very young children pleasure for many
readings. And the type twists playfully over the pages, shrinking and
growing to match Faust's alarms and frustrations.
Diane Fitzgerald is an elementary-school teacher in Saskatoon.
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Copyright © 1996 the Manitoba Library Association.
Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice
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