Dogs by Emily Gravett

44878346Lynn: “I love dogs,” says the unseen narrator and so will every reader by the end of this humorous look at our canine friends. In Dogs (S&S, 2010) Gravett uses a warm palette with perfectly placed splashes of color on a creamy background, depicting dogs of all sizes and shapes. Big dogs and small dogs, shabby dogs and chic dogs, dogs who play and dogs who don’t – each two-page spread draws smiles. What a great way to talk about opposites with kids! My favorite pairing is hairy dogs and bald dogs showing a sheep dog shaking out a cloud of fur which showers down on a tiny besweatered chihuahua.

I field tested this irresistible book with two classes of first graders last week and it was a big winner with this wiggle-prone audience. The oversized book and large illustrations meant that every child could see and they were captivated by the funny drawings. Each pairing drew excited comments so be prepared for a lot of vocal enthusiasm. At the start of the book I asked them to think about who might be telling the story. They loved the surprise answer at the end which unleashed a torrent of comments and they begged to hear the story again. 54 big thumbs up!

Cindy: This is a simple story, but as Lynn notes, it will be perfect for storyhours. The first grade focus group enjoyed it, but Dogs will also fare well with a three-year-old audience just beginning to understand the concept of opposites and needing simple text and clear illustrations. I appreciate how Gravett used the full page spreads to show the size difference between breeds or to allow white space to work its magic. Even the cover is employed this way, don’t forget to open it up and show children the rest of the basset hound on the back cover. As a bonus, labeled drawings identifying each dog breed decorate the inside of the cover. Nicely done.

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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