Tag Archive: dogs


run dog

Run, Dog! by Cecile Boyer

One red ball and one yellow dog create lots of merry chaos in this picture book.  The dog chases the red ball from one scenario to the next, interacting with the people in the scene until finally one of them grabs the ball and throws it off the page.  The pages are filled with action thanks to a tiered page system where you turn on section of the page at a time and the scene changes along with it.  As the sections are turned, the ball bounces in different ways and the dog reacts making the people in the scene react too!

Near wordless, this book just has single words as the ball is thrown to the next page.  The illustrations are bright and pop off the page.  They are as simple as the words but are also very cleverly done.  The structure of the book creates a very dynamic feel and invites small hands to turn the pages to see what happens next.  There is a sense as one reads the book that the reader is the one setting the pace and creating the changes that unfold.

Very engaging, dynamic and great fun, this book is ideal for toddlers who are willing to be careful with the pages.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Chronicle Books.

extraordinary jane

Extraordinary Jane by Hannah E. Harrison

Jane lived in an extraordinary world at the circus, but she was just an ordinary dog.  Her mother could do tricks on the back of horses.  Her father could lift an elephant.  Her brothers got shot out of cannons and her sisters performed on the high wire.  But Jane didn’t do any of that.  She tried to find her own special talent, but nothing seemed to work.  She even managed to cause some disasters along the way.  Jane was just ordinary, but in her own quiet way she was very special too.

Harrison has created a quiet heroine in her picture book.  This book will speak to dog lovers but also to children who feel that they don’t live up to their older siblings.  It is a story that celebrates kindness, supportiveness and just being yourself whether that is loud or quiet, flashy or subtle.  The setting of a circus was an inspired choice, offering the most contrast between a regular dog and the daredevil family she has.

Harrison’s art is wonderfully detailed.  She offers spreads of the entire circus and its three rings filled with action.  The dogs fur is shown in individual hairs, the wrinkles on the elephants are striking, and the perspectives are engagingly diverse.

For all of the quiet stars out there, this amazing dog will be inspiring for them to just be themselves.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Dial.

monday wednesday and every other weekend

Monday, Wednesday, and Every Other Weekend by Karen Stanton

Henry and his dog, Pomegranate, live in two different houses.  On Mondays, Wednesdays and every other weekend, he lives with his mother on Flower Street.  On Tuesdays, Thursdays and every other weekend, he lives with his father two blocks away on Woolsey Avenue.  The two houses are very different.  They smell different, look different, sound different and even taste different.  Pomegranate though is never truly happy at either house.  He wants to be somewhere else.  Then one day, Pomegranate gets out and runs away.  Henry and his father head to Flower Street to see if he is with Henry’s mother, but no Pomegranate.  Then Henry realizes where Pomegranate must be and heads straight to the house where his family used to live all together.  Now a little girl lives there and she has Pomegranate with her! 

This book has such a strong heart.  Stanton clearly shows the differences between the two homes that Henry lives in.  The different neighborhoods, the different foods, the different sounds.  Both homes are beautiful, both are filled with love for Henry.  Stanton’s clever use of Pomegranate as the expression of the emotions involved in a divorce is well done.  She manages to allow Henry to be well adjusted and happy while still dealing with the complex emotions that divorce elicits.

The art is charming and wonderfully loud.  Done in collage mixed with painting, the colors shine on the page.  She makes sure to show the elements that make up life in each house, showing again the differences but also the similarities in the homes.

A memorable book on divorce for children, even children who have not experienced divorce themselves will enjoy this engaging title.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Feiwel & Friends.

dream dog

Dream Dog by Lou Berger, illustrated by David Catrow

Harry wants a dog, but his father works at a pepper factory and sneezes all the time, so he won’t let Harry have a dog.  Instead they get Harry a chameleon who turns colors, but Harry doesn’t love the chameleon.  Luckily a friend of his does, so he gives her the chameleon.  Harry decides that he will try to imagine up a dog with his X-35 Infra-Rocket Imagination Helmet.  Suddenly there is a dog in his room.  Harry names the dog Waffle and the two of them do everything together.  No one else can see Waffle, but that doesn’t bother Harry in the least.  After all, no one could really see the chameleon either.  Then Harry’s father is let go from the pepper factory and goes into ping-pong balls instead.  He brings home a real dog for Harry, but what about Waffle?

Berger was the head writer of Sesame Street for over a decade and my does his expertise shine here.  His tone is playful and filled with joy.  He creates humor out of what could have been a sad story.  The ending is heartfelt and beautiful, dancing the perfect balance of loss and cheer.  This book reads aloud wonderfully, actually begging to be shared.

Catrow’s illustrations are much calmer than many of his previous books.  They still have a great energy to them but they also have a distinct sweetness that mellows them as well as a focus of a tale that is all about love of a dog. 

Even in the crowded shelves of dog books, this is something special.  It is a picture book that speaks to the power of imagination and dreams.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Schwartz & Wade Books.

time for bed fred

Time for Bed, Fred by Yasmeen Ismail

It’s time for Fred to go to bed, but this dog is not ready!  Instead of heading to bed, Fred dashes outside and tries to hide in the flower bed.  Then he hides in a tree until he falls out of it.  Fred then runs and lands in a huge mud puddle.  So then it’s bath time for Fred.  But just when he’s finally clean, he dashes outside once more!  Back inside, he hides in all sorts of places, even after he gets read a bedtime story.  Finally, Fred is moved to the right bed and falls asleep at last.

Fred is a dog that every toddler will relate to.  From his busyness as he dashes from place to place to his unwillingness to head to bed to the final collapse in exhaustion at the end of the day, Fred reacts exactly the way a young child does.  Ismail keeps the book moving quickly with her dialogue-only text that captures the reaction of the owner as Fred refuses to head to bed.  This makes the book great fun to read aloud as well.

Ismail’s art is reminiscent of Chris Raschka with her loose lines and free-flowing forms.  It is filled with action and movement as Fred runs through the garden on the loose.  The illustrations have a great ease and freedom to them that works particularly well with the storyline. 

An energetic and playful bedtime read, let’s hope your little puppies settled down at the end too!  Appropriate for ages 1-3.

Reviewed from library copy.

fossil

Fossil by Bill Thomson

Thomson, author of Chalk, returns with a book that once again mixes fantasy with photorealistic art.  In this picture book, a boy is walking along the water with his dog.  He finds an interesting rock but then trips and the rock goes flying and breaks open revealing a fossil inside.  As he picks it up and discovers the fossilized fern inside the rock, ferns start to grow around him.  His dog digs up another rock and when the boy breaks that one open, a huge dragonfly comes to life.  The dragonfly lands on another rock and readers will see the claws on the fossil before the shadow appears.  With his dog in danger, the boy has to think fast about how to save him. 

Done in a wordless format, Thomson’s art is the real draw here.  His photorealism makes for images that are worth lingering over.  He also uses unique perspectives throughout the book, such as the image on the cover.  The books has the universal appeal of a sandy shore littered with large stones and drenching sunlight.  That same sunlight somehow becomes threatening once the dinosaur appears, almost spotlighting the danger and creating deep menacing shadows.

Vivid and beautiful, this book offers a dynamic take on fossils and prehistoric life.  Appropriate for ages 3-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

binny for short

Binny for Short by Hilary McKay

Binny’s life had been perfect but now she lost two of the most important things she ever had.  First, her father died, taking his stories along with him.  Then, because money became an issue, Binny’s dog had to be given away.  Her dog was taken by her mean Aunty Violet, who never told anyone where Max had been sent.  So when Binny found herself alone in a car with her Aunt, she told her exactly what she thought.  Aunty Violet died soon after that conversation and left Binny and her family her old cottage by the sea, a tiny house but one of their very own.  Now Binny finds herself in an idyllic seaside town, meeting great new friends and even better enemies, but still missing Max.  Binny though is not a girl to easily give up, so she sets about planning to find her dog, no matter what.

I am such a fan of McKay and her writing.  She has a natural flow both in her narrative and in the very real voices that all of her characters use with one another.  Additionally, her characters are all flawed and realistically drawn which adds greatly to the veracity of her books.  In the end, her books are filled with human beings who live in messy ways through their messy lives, beautifully. 

Each member of Binny’s family is worthy of their own novel.  Her older sister is glamorous and musical, yet works incredibly hard to afford the necessary lessons to be a musician.  She is also as much a parent as their lovely but scattered mother.  It is James though, her little brother, who completely steals the book.  As he wears a wetsuit that he found in the trash every day that is pink and green, he has to prove that he’s a boy often, which of course means undressing in public.  He is also growing poison lettuce in his window box from stolen seeds that just happened to find their way into his pocket.  In other words, he’s a delight.

Strong characters and splendid writing result in a virtuoso start to a new series that will have McKay fans cheering for more.  Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from copy received from Margaret McElderry Books.

water in the park

Water in the Park: A Book about Water and the Times of the Day by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin

This picture book opens with the sun rising just before six in the morning on the park.  The turtles warm their shells in the pond and the glow of the sun lights the water.  Dogs and their owners arrive for their morning walks.  When they arrive, the turtles slip back under the water.  By seven, babies have arrived at the park and are getting their drinks from the drinking fountain and setting up for a day of play.  At eight, the sprinkles in the water play area are turned on.  The day progresses with puddles, plants being watered, an ice cream truck, people cooling off in the shade, and lots of splashing.  In the evening, the rain comes and everyone clears out of the park, leaving it again to the turtles and the silence.

Purely satisfying, this book shows the cyclical nature of the day as well as the water cycle too.  All of the many ways that people use water in a park are shown here with a glorious sense of watching people’s lives from a bit away.  We get to know the personalities of children and dogs, the joy of the sprinklers, the heat of the day, and the merriment of a full day spent at the park.  It is also a celebration of the neighborhood park, where people from all over come together in a love of green space and water.

Graegin’s illustrations are filled with small touches that make them a pleasure to explore.  This book is not ideal for sharing with larger groups because so much of its charm is in the details.  It is those details that let us get to know the different people and animals without any explanation.  Small dramas play out in these pictures.

A wonderful book, this story will speak to children from both country and urban settings who know the joys of parks, ponds and community.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from digital galley received from Edelweiss.

grandma and the great gourd

Grandma and the Great Gourd retold by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, illustrated by Susy Pilgrim Waters

This picture book is a retelling of a Bengali folktale.  Grandma was invited by her daughter to visit her on the other side of the jungle.  Before Grandma traveled there, she left the responsibility for her garden and home with her two loyal dogs.  On her way across the jungle, Grandma met a series of hungry animals: a fox, a bear and a tiger.  To each, she explained that she is very thin now, but will be plumper when she returns from seeing her daughter, so they let her go.  Grandma had a good time at her daughter’s home, eating lots of food and visiting.  But eventually, she had to return home to her dogs and her garden.  But how was she to get back?  That’s where the giant gourds in her daughter’s garden came in, and you will just have to read the book to find out how.

Divakaruni has taken a traditional folktale and left it wonderfully traditional.  The story reads like an oral tradition, filled with repetition, small descriptions, and a story that just keeps on rolling forward like a gourd.  She includes noises in the story as well, the khash-khash of lizards slithering over dry leaves, the thup-thup-thup of elephants lumbering on forest paths, and the dhip-dhip of her heartbeat. 

Waters’ illustrations are lush and colorful.  She uses texture and pattern to create a jungle.  The colors range from earthy browns to deep oranges and hot pinks.  The cut paper collages have strong clean lines and add a perfect organic feel to the story.

A great choice for library folk tale collections, this is a story that reads aloud well and has just the right mix of repetition, sound and inventiveness.  Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from copy received from Roaring Brook Press.

lulu and the dog from the sea

Lulu and the Dog from the Sea by Hilary McKay

Released on March 1, 2013.

This second book in the Lulu series continues the story of Lulu, a seven-year-old girl who loves all kinds of animals.  In this story, Lulu goes on vacation by the seaside with her parents, her dog,  and her cousin, Mellie, who is also seven.  At the seaside, they stay at a small cottage and Lulu quickly finds out about a stray dog who has been living off of garbage along the beach.  Lulu sets out to make friends with the dog, but no one else is enthusiastic.  Mellie just wants to build her kite, Lulu’s mother just wants to read the stack of books she brought along, and her dad wants to work on his running.  But Lulu knows that this stray is actually a very special dog, she just has to convince the rest of them.

McKay has a knack for creating characters and experiences that read as vibrantly true and honest.  In her books, there are lost kite bits, sand tracked into the house, trashed garbage cans, and too many shopping trips for forgotten items.  At the same time, there is also the love of a dog, a family that truly spends time with one another, and the success of plans coming together in the end, perhaps not exactly as planned.  As with her previous books, I have always wanted to live in a McKay novel in the midst of the loving mess.

I must also mention that this is an early reader series featuring a modern family of color.  Nothing is made of this fact in the stories.  It is just there, not a plot point, just a fact.  It’s handled with a matter-of-fact nature that I wish we saw more of in books for children.

A great addition to this growing series, the second Lulu book is sure to please fans of the first and bring new fans to the series too.  Appropriate for ages 6-8.

Reviewed from digital copy received from Albert Whitman & Company.

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