Saturday, January 12, 2008

The dog days of January

My son is obsessed with dogs these days and we've been reading every picture book we can find that contains canines of any kind. And, here's what I've discovered... books about dogs basically have two plots.

Plot 1:
  • Dog is bored/irritated with something happening in their house. They run away, get lost and miss their safe, comfortable home. When they return, they are delighted to see whatever made them bored/irritated in the first place.
Plot 2:
  • Dog is happy until cat comes into dog's life. Dog hates cat. (Dog sometimes leaves home because of cat- see plot 1). In the end, dog becomes good friends with said cat.
Think I'm kidding? I've made a list of books (and these are just ones we've read in the past week) that follow the plots mentioned above. I recommend all of them, though. Just because I've read something similar doesn't mean it isn't a great book. And plot variation certainly isn't an issue for my son. To read plot 1 or 2, see these books:
  • Angus and the Cat by Marjorie lack
  • Angus Lost by Marjorie Flack
  • Buster by Denise Fleming (plots 1 and 2)
  • The Great Gracie Chase: Stop That Dog! by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Mark Teague
  • Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion, illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham
  • Nugget & Darling by Barbara M. Joose, illustrated by Sue Truesdell
  • Stanley's Wild Ride by Linda Bailey, illustrated by Bill Slavin
As wonderful as these books are, if you're writing a picture book about dogs... please, oh, please come up with a new plot.

See the following books for creative and intriguing treatments:
  • Grumpy Gloria by Anna Dewdney
  • My Father the Dog by Elizabeth Bluemle, illustrated by Randy Cecil
  • Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann
  • Widget by Lyn Rossiter McFarland, illustrated by Jim McFarland
For picture books that depict multiple breeds of dogs, may I suggest:
  • Have I Got Dogs! by William Cole, illustrated by Margot Apple
  • Puppies! Puppies! Puppies! by Susan Meyers, illustrated by David Walker
I also recommend this book for any child. It's an excellent guide to basic dog safety.
  • May I Pet Your Dog?: The How-to Guide for Kids Meeting Dogs (and Dogs Meeting Kids) by Stephanie Calmenson, illustrated by Jan Ormerod
And for a great board game for dog-obsessed chidren ages 3 and up, try:
  • Diggety Dog, manufactured by International Playthings, Inc.
Got any suggestions for good dog picture books? (I already have the Martha books by Susan Meddaugh and "Let's Get a Pup!" Said Kate and "The Trouble with Dogs..." Said Dad by Bob Graham on my list). We're off to the library today to pick up another healthy stack of books.


  1. Okay, my daughter (age 3) and your son should get together. She loves dogs. I just peeked in the dog book basket and saw a few you haven't mentioned yet: the McDuff books (Wells/Jeffers), Dog's Colorful Day (Dodd), and our favorite, Madeline's Rescue (Bemelmans). She also likes the book and cd (really the cd) Dogs Rule by Daniel Kirk. Don't kill me after you hear it for the fiftieth time.

    Oh, and we also liked The Perfect Puppy for Me. And The Stray Dog (Simont). See, this is why I should have been on LibraryThing months ago, so I could remember all the dog books.

  2. Dog books, dog books... one of my favorites has got to be Bark, George by Jules Feiffer... I'm also a fan of the Fergus books by Tony Maddox.

  3. While a dog isn't the main character, Babymouse #8: Puppylove is cute. A lost dog appears on Babymouse's doorstep, and she has to take care of it.

  4. Anamaria- There must be something about three year olds and dogs! Thank you for the terrific list. I'll look for all of them at the library today. We already have Madeline's Rescue, and he loves it.

    (Incidentally- I just checked your profile and saw that you live about 20 minutes from me, so technically, my son and your daughter could get together...)

    Abby- My son LOVES Bark, George. It's also a terrific storytime book.

    Jill- I agree, Puppylove is cute. I've read all the Babymouse books, and they're terrific. Thanks for the great idea.

  5. I thought you were local! We could all bond over dog books. You're right about the basic plots, too: just replace "cat" with "baby" in Plot 2 and you've got another bunch of books. Of which our favorite is probably That New Animal (Jenkins/Pratt). It's really excellent! Stop me before I go on: we've read a lot of dog books in the past year.

  6. Hi Susan,
    For the December Carnival I wrote a post about gift books. One of the sections was about dog books. You can read it here.

    William is nearly 7 and still loves dog books. He is particularly fond of the Martha books by Susan Meddaugh and the LaRue books by Mark Teague.

  7. Thanks so much, Tricia! Those are excellent suggestions.

  8. I'm surprised that no one has mentioned the Carl books by Alexandra Day. Good Dog, Carl was a favorite of mine growing up (and I don't even like dogs!). It's been years since I read them, so they might be to young for a three year old though...

  9. I love Please, Puppy, Please, if only for the illustrations. It is rather on the plotless side.

    Another good dog book is Let's Get a Pup, Said Kate by Bob Graham.

  10. Hi KT (and welcome!)- The Carl books are great. Thanks for the suggestion.

    2ndgenlibrarian- We've got both Please, Puppy, Please and Let's Get a Pup Said Kate out of the library right now. I agree with you about Please, Puppy, Please... it's pretty plotless and I found it difficult to read aloud, but the pictures are terrific. I like the first book Please, Baby, Please better.

    Let's Get a Pup is wonderful, and a big favorite of my son's.

  11. I love How to Be a Good Dog by Gail Page. I also like Letters from a Desperate Dog (Eileen Christelow) and Dear Mrs. LaRue and Detective Larue (both by Mark Teague).