There are many wonderful, recently-published picture books about dogs that are worth a place on the bookshelf of any library, classroom or bedroom.
“Stay” is a picture book by Alex Latimer, author of “The Boy Who Cried Ninja” and other picture books. In “Stay,” he writes about Buster; Buster’s best human buddy, Ben, thinks Buster is the best dog in the world. Ben’s parents do not agree. Holding a chewed slipper in the middle of a living room decorated with dirt, overturned pots, dog bones and dog prints on the wall, they decide they need a vacation. They also decide that Buster will stay with Grampa instead of ruining their trip (one page is cleverly devoted to how Buster ruined their last trip). In preparation for the trip, Ben leaves Grampa plenty of carefully penned advice about Buster’s likes and dislikes. Lots and lots of advice. When Buster misbehaves just once too often, Grampa has had enough. And he does something that only a wonderful grandfather would do — he trains Buster. And when Ben returns from vacation, Grampa teaches Ben how to continue the training. This is a wonderful book for anyone who is thinking of getting a dog or a puppy — or anyone with a dog that has occasionally misbehaved. In short, this is a book for everyone. Adorable, simple but interesting illustrations; kids will love it! The lesson is that even the sweetest and most loving dog needs training. (Peachtree Publishers)
“Love is My Favorite Thing” by Emma Chichester Clark is another picture book about a misbehaving dog. In this case, Plum’s favorite thing is love. This nondescript black dog loves snow and sun. She loves her bed and her bear. She loves treats and sticks. But she also loves stealing ice cream cones in the park, playing tug of war with feather cushions (that rip, of course), and jumping into fountains and getting wet. When she is reprimanded and sent to bed, poor Plum wonders if her family still loves her. Children will love this story of forgiveness and unconditional love. There are great illustrations which are simple but cleverly express the emotions in the text of the story. (Nancy Paulsen Books)
To round out the doggy collection is a fiction/nonfiction book about dogs called “From Wolf to Woof! The Story of Dogs” by Hudson Talbott. It’s very touching, and like many books which would be classified as nonfiction, it includes a bit of fiction to get the story across. In this book, Talbott explains how dogs came from wolves. He creates an orphan boy and an orphan puppy who join up to help each other. Eventually, other misfit wolves and children join them, and soon they all live together. While this book will appeal to children of all ages, it would be a great springboard for a research project for older students on the origin of dogs. A study in Siberia of foxes shows that after selective breeding of the most friendly foxes, the animals begin to show physical changes. Their coloring changes, their ears flop, and they wag their tails. Current research by Brian Hare and others actually hypothesizes that the domestication of dogs is what enabled humans to develop and change as we have. It’s a research topic kids will love.
Dogs and children go together. There are many, many wonderful books about dogs for children of all ages to enjoy. For older children, middle grade books about dogs like “Buddy” and “Shadow” will be happily devoured. Another great picture book about a lost — and found — dog is “A Dog Wearing Shoes.”
Please note: This was based on the final hardcover copies of the books provided by the publisher for review purposes.