How to Be a Farm Dog: Two Delightful Picture Books for Hopeful Pups

BookendsLynn: Have you ever wanted to be a farm dog? (I’m guessing that’s a secret ambition for many of us.) If you have you’re in luck, because author Anne Vittur Kennedy is here to provide a little professional development with Ragweed’s Farm Dog Handbook (2015). Forget your PLCs (professional learning circles), Ragweed the farm dog is here to show you the ropes . . . or rather, the dog biscuits.

In Kennedy’s instructive book, Ragweed describes what NOT to do if you want to be a great farm dog, pointing out those things you might really, really want to do, but shouldn’t:

Ragweed“Here’s the first thing you need to know:

The rooster wakes the farmer early in the morning.

That’s his job. That’s not your job.

Don’t wake the farmer.

You will really, really want to wake the farmer.

But don’t wake the farmer.”

Ragweed shows us the consequences of succumbing to temptation and they are disastrous but hilarious. Each scene gets funnier and funnier as Ragweed can’t resist doing all the things he tells us not to do, like lying in the mud or sitting on the chickens’ nests. I loved Kennedy’s illustrations of goofy, bug-eyed animals drawn in warm acrylics. You will really, really want to read this charming story over and over, and by the end you will have learned how to earn a lot of dog biscuits!

Job WantedCindy: Dogs and farms go together like biscuits and gravy, but try telling that to this farmer! Job Wanted (2015) by Teresa Bateman features a multi-talented dog that applies for the “dog job” on a farm. The gruff farmer is too busy for a dog, and anyway they only sleep and eat and “don’t give anything back.” The dog is undeterred and asks if the farmer needs a cow:

 

“Well, sure. But you’re not a cow.”

“We’ll see about that. . . . I’ll start work tomorrow.”

Dog herds the cows into the barn for milking and the farmer’s work is done in “jig time.” And so the delightful storytelling pattern is set. The farmer thanks the dog for helping with the cows but tells him that he’s not a cow. The dog is disappointed but won’t give up: do you need a horse . . . ? What ensues is a storyteller’s refrain that will bring lots of laughs. Lovely pastel watercolor and pencil illustrations add to the fun.

Doggone it, don’t miss these two fun books!

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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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