Standing on the doorstep poised for action, she sniffs the air and glances outward before looking hopefully back at her human. As the walk begins a prance replaces her usual plodding pace, everywhere she sees a fresh blanket of snow. It's as if the puppy portion of her fourteen-year-old heart grows larger and larger. She runs and dips her head into the whiteness gulping huge mouthfuls of icy goodness.
If you want to see joy, try watching a dog, at least my dog, in the snow. This, like most enjoyed pursuits, starts in puppyhood. Every dog I have ever known embraces everything they do with enthusiasm. I Love Dogs! (Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, December 30, 2014) written by Sue Stainton with illustrations by Bob Staake is a cheerful celebration of one boy's complete, one hundred percent affection for dogs.
I love dogs!
Is there a specific kind of dog this boy likes? Does he prefer one size over another? Is there a certain personality quirk he requires in dogs? Of course not!
He sees strength as a virtue as well as dogs that make comfy cuddlers. Taking a snooze or running, even around in circles, is perfectly fine dog behavior as far as he is concerned. Always hungry dogs, taking advantage of every opportunity dogs or patiently waiting dogs are the consummate canine companion.
This boy can't help telling the world how much dogs fill his entire being with happiness. If they have smooth fur, fluffy fur, or fur with polka dots, he simply does not care. If they sniff or are smelly or if they bark or quietly sneak, he treats them equally.
As he follows signs through the park with a definite destination in mind, everywhere he looks he sees dogs. Long bodies, tall bodies, short bodies, and tails and noses in motion are traits he treasures. This boy knows everything about dogs in art, dogs in the news and how they are very smart. This boy loves dogs with all his heart! Where is he going on this fine day you ask? I'll never tell.
If you want exhilaration on every single page, read the words written by Sue Stainton for this title. Her character, the boy, not only declares his fondness for these four-legged friends but he tells us exactly why he feels the way he does. Stainton groups at least ten two-word phrases together; the first two and second two rhyming descriptions preceding the word dogs. When she switches this up with three word phrases the final word rhymes. Her repetition of the words I love dogs and Dogs, dogs, dogs contributes to the delivery of the beat and helps build toward the finale. Here is a sample.
Dogs in the snow,
dogs that know.
Looking at the bright colors and facial expressions on the front and back of the dust jacket will make readers want to lift their hands and laugh too. On the left is a separate single illustration of the boy, eyes closed, nearly lying on the ground as two dogs happily bark at him and lick his face. This is a portion of an interior two-page picture. As my copy is an F & G I am not sure how the endpapers will appear.
Bob Staake's remarkable, individualistic images begin the story on the title page as the boy walks by a sign which points the way. The verso and dedication pages hold a single visual of a street surrounding a park with a pathway the boy will follow. The park is a haven for dogs.
All of the illustrations spanning edge to edge across two pages are rendered digitally. People's faces and dogs are every shape, hue and age. Trees and their trunks are striped, plain and variegated. The architecture of buildings is mixed. I want to step into this world created by Bob Staake.
I could spend hours (even more than I already have) looking at the details in each illustration. Some dogs are on leashes, some are being pulled in wagons; some are running free or running after another dog. Some collars are small, others are big and one is even worn on a tail. You won't have to look for very long to see burst-out-loud-laughing humor that tops the smile you are already wearing.
One of my favorite illustrations is one of the center portions of the park; four paths branching from a small pool. Nearly every single being is in motion, except for a newspaper reader on a bench. Our lover of dogs can be seen on the far left, arms outstretched, head raised proclaiming
I love dogs!
with a single tooth showing in his open mouth. The hat one of the men is wearing might remind you of another book character.
I love books! I love reading! And I love dogs! The narrative written by Sue Stainton paired with the artwork of Bob Staake in I Love Dogs! is a title which welcomes not only readers with my same passions but anyone looking for delight with a capital D. This is a great read aloud inviting listeners to participate by shouting out repetitious words and would be wonderful to do as a reader's theater production.
Please follow the link embedded in Bob Staake's name to access his website. I was fortunate to obtain this F & G from my favorite independent book shop, McLean & Eakin Booksellers in Petoskey. Be sure to visit your nearest indie store to get a copy or your local public library when the end of December appears on your calendar.