The gift of nothing by Patrick McDonnell
Little, Brown, 2005

Mooch the cat has decided to give a gift to his best friend, Earl the dog. However, Earl already has everything a dog could possibly want so Mooch decides to give him nothing. Problem is, Mooch can't seem to locate nothing since everywhere he looks, there is something. Will Mooch find it?

I don't recall reading any of McDonnell's Mooch comics, although I'm sure I must have at some point. Either way, I was not familiar with the characters, nor does one need to be to appreciate this book and its message of friendship and simplicity. It is not an in-your-face message, just that companionship and love are things to cherish over material objects, and it certainly hit home with me.

The illustrations are line drawings in black ink with red accents, yet McDonnell captures expression and emotion with little decoration. The quality of the paper is important as well, and since it is recycled paper it has a greyish hue with tiny flecks of darker colour in it. It is also nice and thick and doesn't stick together like shiny paper can tend to do. The fact that the text appears only at the top of and is, at most, 2 lines per page allows the illustrations to convey humour and affection as needed.

While there is a definite message that The gift of nothing is getting across, it is one that is worthwhile told with artistry, humour and grace.


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