Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Books for Little Dog-Lovers

Our boy wanted a dog. He was four, and he had never asked for anything before. Asked what kind of a dog he wanted, he started off ‘mmm… with a red leash’. I asked hopefully, would just a leash do? “No, there must be a dog at the end of it too.” I floated the idea of fish as pets (he realized that fish don’t bite). Yes, I was mean. But I did get him doggie books.

He loved the Biscuit books by Alyssa Satin Cappuccilli, and the Henry & Mudge series. Both fall in the space between picture books and chapter books, are great for beginner readers, and have been reviewed earlier on Saffron Tree.

When he was around two, he enjoyed the Usborne Farmyard Tales – because they featured Rusty, the dog.

As I type, I am being handed “maps” for a treasure hunt, ‘Mop’s Treasure Hunt’ having been dug out a few minutes ago. Martine Schaap’s Mop is an adorable sheepdog.

Apart from these series, we have a few absolute favourite doggie books.

Officer Buckle and Gloria
By Peggy Rathmann
G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Ages 3-6

If your little one is a dog-lover, enjoys slapstick humor, or is in awe of men (and women) in uniform, then this book is guaranteed to work. I have one who fits into all of those categories, so this book by Peggy Rathmann of ‘Goodnight, Gorilla’ fame, is a favourite.

Featuring an officer who talks about safety to school-kids, and police dog Gloria, ‘Officer Buckle and Gloria’ was the 1996 Caldecott Medal winner. When I first leafed through it, I was left wondering - the illustrations are not quite in the same league as other Caldecott winners. It was only when I saw it through a child’s eye that I got it.

Hidden in between all the humor is a message on one-upmanship between friends, teamwork, communicating in a fun way, and safety. Most of all, ‘Officer Buckle and Gloria’ is an entertainer. The illustrations add a zing and work beautifully with the text.

- Gloria leaping up as if she’s been pricked when Officer Buckle warns the audience never to leave a thumbtack where someone might sit on it.
- When Officer Buckle warns that one must not go swimming during electrical storms, Gloria is in mid-air with hair standing on end
- The fan-mail that Officer Buckle receives with drawings of Gloria’s antics
- The numerous safety tips that Officer Buckle has thumbtacked – many funny, some useful, none fear-inducing. The worrywart at home spent hours poring over them.

At a time when my son thought reading wasn’t cool, what with peers saying “books are boring” or “I don’t like reading all that much”, this book came as a life-saver and turned things around.

Why Benny Barks
By David Milgrim
Random House Books
Ages 3-6

Apart from being a supplier of doggie books, I lose no opportunity in letting the little one spend time with other people’s dogs (yes, I can be magnanimous that way). He fell in love with one such dog when we were visiting. He followed it around everywhere, asked our hosts why he barked, what he was saying. I found the boy asking the dog ‘why are you just sitting there like that, are you happy?’ (the poor dog was curled up in a corner clearly looking for some peace)

Then, I got hold of ‘Why Benny Barks’.

He barks at the garden hose, he barks at the phone, 
He even stands by himself and barks all alone!

Is he barking at nothing? Does he bark at the wall? 
Is he talking to someone? Is it some kind of call?

With spare text that rhymes, the book doesn’t seek to find answers.
David Milgrim does something far more important – he acknowledges the question.

[Image source amazon.com]


Namrata said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Choxbox said...

Nice topic A!

Here's one we loved, picked it up at the Bangalore Book fair:

Arundhati said...

Topic triggered by kid playing with BOOKSTOP! guy's pug (Buddy) at the Bookalore event last weekend. Followed by self-initiated activities
-ID card creation for Buddy with name, age, breed, leesh (red), size...
-pulling out dog books
-pestering parent for 'leash' (ID card tag to the rescue).
Leash was attached to soft toy dog, which was then taken for a walk. Soon there were half a dozen other kids with similar paraphernalia, all "walking dogs".

Wow, Owney sounds very interesting, thanks. Hope I am lucky enough to get hold of the book!

Choxbox said...

Arundhati: There seem to be quite a few Owney books. definitely a very interesting character.

And LOL@ the doggie activities!

Subhashini said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Subhashini said...

Yes, we have a dog lover too...the German Shepard at the in-laws place is keeping him happy for now. Adding to your list, here's something that we've read and enjoyed-


It's about a young border collie called Floss, who loves to play balls with children but is sent to a distant farm to be trained as a sheep dog. A story that can teach kids about balancing responsibilities with fun and the importance of taking time to play. I particularly loved the lively illustrations.

Arundhati said...

Sounds interesting, Subhashini. Thank you

Choxbox said...

@Subhashini: We have Floss too. It is indeed awesome.

@Arundhati: Feel free to borrow.

Sangitha said...

A lovely topic - we have a bunch of books with and of dogs. We're a bunch of animal crazies out here - my unsolicited advice, get him the pup. There's little else out there like growing up with a dog. They're easier to raise than kids (and will help you raise kids!)...you'll be as much in love as he is.

Nothing like a puppy to teach a child empathy and critical life skills, in ways no one can 'teach' but everyone learns! Trying to make your little one's case for him! :-D

Arundhati said...

Sangi - Yes, learning to love and care for another was one of the reasons I used to give myself... but I don't need a reason anymore! I've gone from pretending not to be scared of dogs, to really liking them, and I *love* seeing the boy bond with them. It is a big decision though, and it will have to wait

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