Extra—For Writers

No Dogs Allowed Submission

No Dogs Allowed!

Written by Linda Ashman, Illustrated by Kristin Sorra.
Sterling Publishing, 2011. 978-1402758379.

Reviews & Honors

Texas 2×2 Reading List

“Ashman’s concept is both sophisticated and delightful. Offbeat and appealing.” —Kirkus

“Elegant storytelling fun comes with the extra satisfaction that derives from having to use visual clues to figure out what’s happened.” —Publishers Weekly

“When a succession of potential customers arrives at Alberto’s City Lights Restaurant with increasingly outrageous animals, a hastily established “NO DOGS ALLOWED” policy quickly progresses all the way to a policy of “NO ONE WITH FUR, FEATHERS, SHELLS, SCALES, OR TRUNKS ALLOWED.” When the exclusionary policies don’t work out, the restaurant rearranges the letters in its name to spell out the new name, All Critters Bistro—with “EVERYONE ALLOWED.” — Booklist

About this Story

Years ago, after spotting a “No Dogs Allowed” sign at a baseball field, I wondered if cats were permitted. After all, the sign only mentioned dogs. And since it didn’t specifically exclude other animals, did that mean kangaroos, for example, were okay? Aardvarks? Anteaters? How about elephants?

As I contemplated an increasingly wacky array of creatures, it occurred to me this might make a good picture book. I liked the visual possibilities of showing so many animals, and I also liked that the story might convey a deeper message about exclusion and acceptance. As I thought about it more, I remembered seeing dogs sitting at restaurant tables on a trip to Paris years ago, and turned the ball fields into Alberto’s City Lights Restaurant (a name that very handily provided all the letters for “All Critters Bistro” at the end).

Then came the tricky part. I knew I wanted to tell the story mostly through pictures rather than words, but given my lack of artistic skill, I knew I couldn’t use my OWN pictures. So I had to describe what I envisioned on each page. Not easy! And once illustrator Kristin Sorra began working on it, the story evolved a bit more. Unlike most picture books, where you have little or no contact with the illustrator, this process was far more collaborative. There was a lot of back and forth between editor Meredith Mundy, the art director, Kristin, and me. We even had a conference call at one point — a real rarity. It was a real learning process, and made me even more aware of how small decisions — and there are many — can have a huge impact on the end result.

Illustrations copyright 2011 by Kristin Sorra. Sterling Children’s Books.