The Mastiff is the fifth book in Frederic Brremaud’s wordless Love series, which follows the adventures of a mastiff surviving in the Australian outback after his owner succumbs to a deadly snake bite while out hunting. The mastiff is forced to flee when a pack of wild dogs finds his owner’s body, he comes across a variety of other snakes, and subsequently has a run in with the wild dogs. Besides focusing on the mastiff’s journey, many pages follow the story of a platypus mother who is living near a pond where the mastiff eventually takes refuge.
Previous volumes followed a tiger, a fox, a lion, and a dinosaur. The reader gets to see the types of challenges and interactions each animal might face in a typical day as well as short asides to highlight other animals’ behavior. The author and artist do not shy away from the natural processes of life, including death, territorial disputes, and reproduction. For example, in The Tiger, although the tiger is unable to capture a monkey, a python is shown strangling one of the monkeys from the back of the group and slithering off with it still in its coils. In The Lion, male lions fight over a lioness and her cubs.
There is no text throughout this series. Instead, the artist includes lots of details and multiple panels per page to convey movement and emotion. It’s like watching a nature documentary but in the form of a book, giving the reader lots of time to analyze the backgrounds and flip back and forth to examine cause and effect. I personally loved the animal side characters and how well they are incorporated into each of the volumes.
Although the publisher has this series rated as All Ages, parents should be aware that death, blood, and violence are found in every volume. I imagine that the conversations spawned by reading it as a family would be engaging and informative. And since there is no shared storyline, each volume is standalone. Back matter includes sketches in all the volumes. The Mastiff also includes three pages about climate change and global warming, the effects felt in Australia, and ten suggestions to fight global warming.
Love: The Mastiff
By Frederic Brremaud
Art by Federico Bertolucci
OtherMagnetic Press, 2021
Publisher Age Rating: All Ages
Series ISBNs and Order
NFNT Age Recommendation: Tween (10-13)
Creator Representation: French, Italian