Looking Out for Sarah
Glenna Lang, author & illustrator
Glenna Lang studied art at the Boston Museum School. Her past work includes illustration for Robert Frost's The Runaway, Robert Louis Stevenson's My Shadow, James Whitcomb Riley's When the Frost Is on the Punkin, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's The Children's Hour.
Read more about Glenna.
- ALA Schneider Family Book Award
Based on a real black Labrador retriever named Perry and his owner, Sarah Gregory Smith, Looking Out for Sarah by Glenna Lang tells about the relationship between a blind woman and her lead dog. Perry guides Sarah to their favorite grocery store, the post office and then a nearby school. Sarah tells the children, "Yes, she and Perry once walked from Boston to New York to show the world what a guide dog can do for a blind person." Lang's warm gouache paintings convey the trusting and affectionate friendship between the two.
Based on a true story, this handsome picture book tells of a day in the life of a guide dog, Perry, a black Labrador retriever who looks out for his blind owner, Sarah. Every page shows the close bond between the strong, active woman and the beloved companion who helps her be independent. Walking in the street, shopping, working, and relaxing at home, they are together. The narrative is true to Perry's viewpoint, whether he's enjoying the soft carpet and the crumbs under the table or leading Sarah up the steps of the post office or feeling the wind flattening his ears as he runs in the park. The gouache art, in bold, saturated colors and flat, well-defined shapes, is both childlike and sophisticated, with Perry at the center of the big pictures. Once Sarah and Perry walked 300 miles, from Boston to New York, and children will be caught up by the excitement of the journey as well as by the depiction of what a guide dog can do.
The Boston Globe
Smith's spirited, upbeat approach to living life with a disability was one of the reasons she became the subject of a new children's book, "Looking Out for Sarah," by Cambridge writer and illustrator Glenna Lang. It is a picture book about a day in the life of a seeing-eye dog and his person, from the dog's point of view.
("Left, Perry," said Sarah. As they strode down the sidewalk, Perry pulled to the side to sniff a tasty crumb. He knew he shouldn't eat on the job, but he hoped Sarah wouldn't mind just once.")
Lang spent six months shadowing Smith. Her book depicts the way Perry, the guide dog, helps Smith maneuver around Salem and beyond, taking the train, meeting with friends, visiting an elementary school to sing for students and tell them about life with a guide dog. It describes how, in 1994, Sarah and Perry walked 300 miles to Manhattan to raise awareness about guide dogs and meet Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.
Lang says she got the idea for the book "many, many years ago. It was one of those ideas you carry around with you a long, long time." She interviewed several people with guide dogs and was immediately impressed with Smith's energy and good cheer. She "fell in love" with Perry, a black Labrador retriever.
"Sarah is charismatic and dynamic," says Lang. "She is quite an inspiration. It's just amazing that someone in her situation is not at all slowed down, as far as I can see. I always forget that she's blind. She doesn't act blind. I know she can't read the book, but the amazing thing is I feel that she can. She really listens to what people have to say and has a full imagination.
ISBN: 978-1-60734-345-5 PDF
Page count: 32
8 1/2 x 11