This summer, you have big plans.
You’re going to play in the back yard and in the park with your friends. You’ll ride your bike, maybe go on a weekend trip, play video games, and you’ll hang out with your dog. Or maybe you’ll get a dog. Or you can read about them in these great books...
The littlest book-lover (ages 3-4) will enjoy the imagination-boosting power of “If I Were a Dog” by Joanna Cotler (Philomel). Using a spare few words and quiet, very simple drawings, this book invites kids to think about how life would be if they had four legs, a tail, long ears, silky fur, and paws. It also reminds young children in many subtle ways that dogs and kids aren’t so different, in the end.
For active kids ages 5-to-7, “Hugo and the Impossible Thing” by Renee Felice Smith and Chris Gabriel, illustrated by Sydney Hanson (Flamingo Books) is a totally possible thing to enjoy. It’s the story of Hugo, a smart, brave little bulldog whose animal friends wonder what’s beyond “The Impossible Thing” in the forest. Nobody knows because (duh) it’s impossible, right? But is it really? This is a great story for children who need a good between-school-year confidence boost, for those who need a lesson in cooperation, and for hate-to-sit kids who love to climb and swim.
Though it’s a picture book and will be found with other little-kid books in your bookstore and library, “Saving Stella” by Bassel Abou Fakher and Deborah Blumentahal, illustrated by Nadine Kaadan (Bloomsbury Children) is really a book for older children, ages 7-9. It’s a true story of a dog whose owner escapes war in Syria but he has to leave his beloved Stella behind. He never forgets her, and when he learns that Stella needs to leave Syria, too, the story takes a turn and becomes a thrilling drama. Beware: the artwork is heart-wrenching and so is the tale, so give it to older kids, please, and help them read the afternotes.
And finally, for the 9-and-up animal lover – particularly one with allergies – there’s “Allergic” by Megan Wagner Lloyd and Michelle Mee Nutter (Scholastic Graphix). It’s the story of Maggie, whose family is about to adopt a puppy. Maggie has two bratty twin brothers, her mom is going to have a baby, and so Maggie might have the dog all to herself (yay!) but before they can take The Perfect Puppy home, Maggie has an allergic reaction.
At first, she’s mad that her body is betraying her. Then she tries to come up with a pet that doesn’t have fur or feathers but nothing works. Her brothers have each other. Mom and Dad will have the baby soon. And this graphic novel is the book your comic-obsessed animal-lover will want to have, too.
If these don’t quite fit, then ask your librarian or bookseller for more pet-positive books for your young reader because, for a lot of kids, summer with a dog (or a dog book) is always best.