Get set for a tail-wagging adventure! The picture books below are filled with the kind of frisky, rambunctious fun that can only be found in the company of a canine. As these stories demonstrate, nothing measures up to the love of a good pup.
AN UNEXPECTED STUDY BUDDY
In Lisa Papp’s Madeline Finn and the Library Dog, a reader-in-training gains confidence thanks to a canine companion. At school, Madeline Finn struggles to read out loud: “Sometimes the sentences get stuck in my mouth like peanut butter,” she admits. Madeline is discouraged but determined to earn a gold star in reading, so she pores over assigned pages at home. Then her mother takes her to meet the library dogs. Madeline gets paired with Bonnie, a gentle pooch who resembles a “big, snowy polar bear.” By reading aloud to Bonnie, Madeline gradually conquers her uncertainty with words—and scores that coveted star at school. Papp’s pencil and watercolor illustrations are filled with delightful details. Madeline herself is disheveled but adorable, with striped tights and an overflowing backpack. Books and dogs—what more could a little girl ask for?
DOG PSYCHOLOGY 101
What goes on inside the head of a snoozing pooch? This perplexing question lies at the heart of Arthur Howard’s My Dream Dog. The narrator, a young boy, knows nearly everything concerning his furry pal, Scooter, including the stuff he likes (burgers and bones) and the stuff he can’t stand (felines and fleas). “What I don’t know,” the boy admits, “is what he dreams about.” His mother thinks Scooter fantasizes about food. His brother believes Scooter dreams of the thrill of the chase. When the boy asks his grandpa about Scooter’s dreams, the wise old man offers the best answer of all. In his big-as-life watercolor illustrations, Howard presents Scooter as a quintessential mutt, scruffy and lovable, with a lolling tongue and always-alert ears. This exuberant tribute to the child-and-dog bond is also a clever exploration of what makes canines tick.
FUN ON ALL FOURS
A furry family member is the center of attention in Old Dog Baby Baby by Julie Fogliano. While crawling across the kitchen floor, a tow-headed tot encounters the senior member of the household—a grizzled gray dog who’s enjoying a snooze. Excited and curious, the tot is soon frolicking with his new playmate: “Baby peeks / baby spies / in old dog ears / and old dog eyes.” Meanwhile, mom and big sis watch over the proceedings as they flip through a family album that’s filled with photos of the dog—of course! Fogliano’s short, rhymed stanzas create a reader-friendly rhythm, while Chris Raschka’s colorful, close-up illustrations of baby and pet reflect the book’s buoyant mood. This sunny celebration of dog love will leave little readers pleading for pups of their own.