Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Care Of A Companion

Unless you have two or more dogs at once or you stagger the time they enter your family and if you are fortunate, there will be considerable years between one puppy and the next.  This gap, although most welcome, makes it seem at the arrival of a new dog as if it's the first one to ever be residing in your home.  How could you have forgotten the weeks of sleepless nights during housebreaking?  Did all your other canine companions combined chew as much as this dog?  You're certain you would be wealthy beyond imagining if you had a penny for every time you wished you had as much energy as this new bundle of fur.

It's time to refresh your skills and knowledge of canine communication.  Our Very Own Dog (Candlewick Press, January 10, 2017) written by Amanda McCardie with illustrations by Salvatore Rubbino is a charming and informative title about welcoming a dog into your home.  It's never too early or too late to learn what we can do for them and what they always do for us.

A dog came to live with us when I was four.

Sophie introduced herself by placing her nose on the four-year-old girl's hand.  To make her new home inviting the family provided her with her own space, a place to eat, toys, a collar and leash.  Our narrator tells us the benefits of having toys for chewing and a properly fitted collar with correct information engraved on the tags.

As a rescue dog Sophie was hesitant around the girl's father but how he looked at her and the tone of his voice won her trust and will win the trust of your pooch pal, too.  Giving dogs a proper meal, especially their favorite foods further builds the bond.  Although we can't speak dog and they can't speak human, there are simple, effective means of being understood.  Did you know dog's whiskers are useful "feelers"?

When words were consistently connected to favorable activities, even when softly spoken, Sophie perked right up.  (I know it to be true a dog can hear a package of cheese being opened from one side of the house to the other.)  Sophie like all dogs enjoyed being with other canines, racing in the park and sniffing everything for new messages.  Our young guide makes sure we know proper dog responsibilities like scooping poop and keeping dogs on leashes.

A dog's sense of smell is so keen we have to be ever vigilant in keeping certain things away from their reach.  A plate full of sausages were not meant to be Sophie's dinner but she consumed them regardless.  Grooming and petting varies for all dogs but Sophie much preferred the idea of leaping into the tub with her little girl rather than getting a bath herself.  A jumping-in-all-the-mud-puddles kind of day taught Sophie's family one final thing about her.  It was the best thing of all.

Readers will be easily enveloped by the story of Sophie's arrival and her place in the family at the little girl's home through the first person narrative penned by Amanda McCardie.  The added conversations presenting particulars relative to points in the story flows flawlessly.  This is an excellent way to educate readers in the context of real life situations.  Here are some sample passages.

Sophie loved to chase a ball.
She'd run so fast that her ears turned inside out.
Go, Sophie!

She'd drop the ball for you to throw---
then snatch it up herself.

Dogs can't sweat to cool down the way we do (except on the pads of their paws).
Panting helps to cool them when they get hot.

You'll want to give Sophie and her human girl big hugs as soon as you see them featured on the matching dust jacket and book case.  Rendered in mixed media these illustrations (and those throughout the title) by Salvatore Rubbino radiate welcoming warmth.  The smooth brush strokes and varied pressure generating texture are superb.  Using a crisp white background heightens our focus on the family and Sophie.  To the left, on the back, we are treated to two interior scenes from the book with the girl and Sophie playing throw and fetch.  Here is where we can also see Rubbino's attention to detail in the bee near a flower and a bird picking up a twig for nest building.

On the opening and closing endpapers spread before us like a patterned gallery are thirty-six different dogs in varying poses. I know the one carrying a slipper will bring on the smiles.  On the verso and title pages Salvatore Rubbino begins his pictorial interpretation.  The parents have just walked into the home carrying a crate with Sophie inside.

With each page turn we enter deeper into the world of Sophie and her new family, alternating between two page pictures, small images grouped on single pages and illustrations extending across the gutter to the next page.  The body postures and facial expressions on all the characters are endearing.  The items in the little girl's home and the clothing worn by everyone make you want to jump right into this story.  These are the kind of people you want as neighbors.

One of my favorite of several illustrations is the walk leading to the park.  Across two pages with shifting perspectives, back to front, we see people participating in all forms of activities.  Many of them are accompanied by their dogs.  If you wanted to frame happiness, this would be a wonderful portrayal.

This title, Our Very Own Dog written by Amanda McCardie with illustrations by Salvatore Rubbino, will be a splendid addition to your professional and personal bookshelves.  The incidents in the story are delightfully normal making the factual comments simply the best.  At the end of the narrative the author speaks about finding out as much as you can about dogs before you bring one into your life.  She offers five body language emotions exhibited by dogs, three useful titles and an index.  She points out the two types of fonts found in the book, one signifying the continuing narrative and the other for separate pieces of information.

To learn more about Amanda McCardie and Salvatore Rubbino please follow the links attached to their names taking you to the pages about them at the Walker UK website.  At the Candlewick Press website you can view my favorite illustration.  You will find more about Salvatore Rubbino at Children's Book Illustration.  Author, reviewer, and blogger Julie Danielson highlights Salvatore Rubbino and his first book on her blog, Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.

Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy hosted by educator Alyson Beecher to take a peek at the titles chosen this week by other bloggers participating in the 2017 Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge.


  1. I have a beloved dog named Sophie in my past, so love reading your review bout this book. It sounds like a great addition to learning about families and good beginnings with their new dogs. Thanks, Margie.

  2. I came across this book last summer, somehow! I love the information within the story!