7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #790: Featuring Doug Salati

h1 April 10th, 2022 by jules

Doug Salati’s Hot Dog (Knopf), his first book as an author-illustrator, will be on shelves in May. And you’ll really want to find a copy of this brilliantly constructed story of one dog’s (and human’s) escape to the sea.

Salati’s text opens with short, clipped phrases that capture the tension of a big, bustling city in the summer: “City summer / steamy sidewalks / concrete crumbles / sirens screech.” Vivid reds and coppers dominate the palette; onomatopoeic, hand-lettered sounds convey the noise of the city; and beautifully wielded, nimbly lined illustrations in vertical panels with kinetic, subtly scratchy borders reflect the chaos, stress, and strain. Changes in font size (and the use of italics) accelerate the pace and tension until it’s all “too much! THAT’S IT!” The dog, who has been led on a leash through the big city, simply stops in the middle of the road. Enough is enough.

But never fear: The dog’s companion has a plan.

The two head to the shore, all the borders falling away and the palette turning to cool azures. It’s a “welcome whiff of someplace new.” Illustrations bleed to the edges as the pup’s adventure at the sun-dappled ocean in afternoon takes over. He plays in the water, gathers rocks, and even nips at a seal. It’s sky, sand, and setting sun as the dog takes in the open air he needed. The two head home on the subway — “what a day for a dog!” — and fall asleep, a “deep ocean sleep.”

These choices Salati makes around composition and the vibrant palette communicate much of the book’s changing tone and heighten the story’s emotional impact. He populates these landscapes with eye-catching details and expressive characters. These are spreads for lingering over. Best of all, the two primary characters, the dog and its owner, endear themselves to readers. I don’t know if we’ll see them in future books, but I’d be happy to meet them again.

Today, I’ve some spreads from this visually rich story, though I highly recommend you find a copy of the book and treat yourself. Doug also shares some preliminary character studies below. I thank him for sharing.


Character Studies:


(Click image to enlarge)


(Click image to enlarge)


(Click image to enlarge)


(Click image to enlarge)


Some Final Spreads:



(Two images above: Click second one to see spread in its entirety)



(Two images above: Click second one to see spread in its entirety)


“here, a pup can run”
(Click spread to enlarge)



(Two images above: Click first one to see spread in its entirety)


“everyone cools down”
(Click spread to enlarge)


(Click cover to enlarge)


HOT DOG. Copyright © 2022 by Doug Salati. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, New York. Character studies reproduced by permission of Doug Salati.

* * * Jules’s Kicks * * *

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

I’m traveling for work this week — and I’m so grateful for the COVID protocols the people I work for put in place — so I’m going to keep it brief today. My kicks (one to seven) — other than Ketanji, Associate Justice-designate of the Supreme Court of the United States (!!) and when author-illustrators like Doug Salati do THIS kind of beauty with the picture book form — are finally being able to travel again. It’s my first flight since the pandemic.

I’ll be back on Sunday, so please do tell me: What are YOUR kicks this week?

4 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #790: Featuring Doug Salati”

  1. Hello Imps! Hello Doug and dog!

    Jules: Have fun! Safe travels!

    My kicks this week:
    1) Seizing opportunities
    2) Better fit
    3) Learning
    4) Resting
    5) Figuring it out
    6) Planning
    7) Trying

  2. Love this story and these illustrations, especially the spreads at the beach.

    Jules – I share your kick of our newest Supreme Court Justice to-be. Safe travels and yay for those protocols.

    Little Willow – love seizing opportunities, better fit and resting this week.

    My kicks:
    1) Ketanji Brown Jackson being confirmed.
    2) Settling a case well for a client.
    3) Making travel plans for next year with a friend I haven’t seen in ages.
    4) Finished watching Normal People.
    5) Daisy going to underwater treadmill and her happy tail wags to see her friends.
    6) A lovely letter from a penpal, complete with a packet of colorful purple prince zinnia seeds!
    7) Daily walks with Daisy.
    7.5) Lazy Sunday morning with sleeping Daisy and good coffee.

    Have a great week Imps!

  3. Little Willow, sounds like a good week. … Rachel, your third kick sounds extra exciting, but I also like the idea of lazy Sunday mornings with DAISY!

    Have a good week, you two!

  4. Made me think of summers on Lake Michigan. Thanks for the post. Will seek out hard copy.

Leave a Comment

Should you have trouble posting, please contact sevenimp_blaine@blaine.org. Thanks.