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The dog days of summer

Posted on June 19, 2018 at 6:00 am

By Sheri Boggs

The hot, sticky afternoons of late July through August are typically called “the dog days of summer.” It’s that time when the only thing that sounds good for dinner is gazpacho, and even grownups without kids consider a visit to the neighborhood swimming pool.

To the ancient Greeks and Egyptians, the dog days of summer referred to the return of Sirius (the dog star) to the pre-dawn sky and signaled the possibility of fever, storm, or even war. To me, it’s much more literal: the days are long, so there’s more time to spend outside with my two Chi-Poo mixes. It’s the time of year they spend chasing each other through the hostas in our backyard, their range suddenly doubled by the back door being open. On the weekends, we might take a family walk to the Park Bench in Manito Park for “puppaccinos” (whipped cream in a coffee lid). Even pulling weeds is more fun with a four-legged buddy or two.

As the kids book buyer for the District, I admit I have a big soft spot for books about dogs. Whether it’s Dav Pilkey’s Dog Man books, Alyssa Satin Capuccilli’s Biscuit easy readers, or the numerous adorable puppies of Puppy Pool Party, I’m on board. In the spirit of celebrating summertime and dogs, here are some newer kid’s titles celebrating all things canine.

PICTURE BOOKS



Walk Your Dog by Elizabeth Stevens Omlor

Ages 2–5

Taking care of a dog is a lot of work! The little girl at the heart of this picture book follows the advice of the text, which is only three words on a page (pairing a verb with the phrase “your dog”). She dutifully attempts to greet her dog, groom her dog, feed her dog, and walk her dog, with the illustrations revealing how well dog training is really going (“Chase Your Dog.” “Catch Your Dog.”). Great for young listeners and emerging readers alike!


It’s a Puppy’s Life by Seth Casteel

Ages 4–8

If there’s one thing puppies and small children have in common, it’s routines. Here, the author-photographer of Puppy Pool Party follows a group of baby dachshunds, golden retrievers, shih tzus, huskies, and more as they wake, eat, play, walk, and sleep. Simple language, engaging layout, and seriously, those puppies make this small hardcover irresistible.


Rescue & Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship by Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes

Ages 5–9

The married author duo of this book each lost a limb in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. In Rescue & Jessica, they call upon their own recovery experiences and their remarkable friendship with their service dog, Rescue, to write this fictional story of a young girl named Jessica who is in the hospital after having to have her leg amputated. As Jessica learns new skills and faces ongoing health issues, she builds a relationship with her new service dog, Rescue. With frank sensitivity, this title capably illustrates what service dogs do and how they might be needed.

NONFICTION BOOKS


The Everything Book of Dogs & Puppies by DK Children

Ages 6–9

Designed for kids, The Everything Book of Dogs & Puppies answers all the questions any young canine enthusiast might have. Guidelines on feeding, grooming, playtime, and more are supplemented by information on popular dog breeds and fun facts like how dogs communicate with each other and bond with their human families.


Made for Each Other: Why Dogs and People Are Perfect Partners by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent

Ages 6–9

Hand this to your favorite dog-obsessed young person. Divided into three sections—“A Perfect Partnership,” “The Science of Love,” and “Sharing Our Lives”—Made for Each Other distills the latest research on canine evolution and its effect on our relationship with dogs today. Lively text and graphics show the how and why of dog evolution—from ancient wolves to domestication—and the science behind the wags and woofs that our furry friends use to communicate, revealing canine intelligence. By the last page, you’ll gain clear understanding of your dog’s need for a pack and why it is vitally important for both dog and human.


Woof! 100 Fun Facts About Dogs by Elizabeth Carney

Ages 6–9

Similar to Made for Each Other, Woof! 100 Fun Facts About Dogs highlights the journey of modern canines from wolf to royal corgi with easy-to-read language for readers about to make the jump from easy readers to chapter books. True to the title, the layout includes 100 color-blocked factoids (“Basenjis are the only dog breed that can yodel.” “A dog’s whiskers detect tiny changes in airflow.”) that kids will love reading to others.


Smiley: A Journey of Love by Joanne George

Ages 9–grownup

Oh, my heart. I loved this book the minute it arrived and was even more impressed when I had a chance to read it. The product of a Canadian puppy mill, Smiley is a golden retriever born without eyes and with dwarfism, which means his head is larger than most and his limbs shorter. He also experienced a rough early life. Adopted by the author, a veterinary technician, and named Smiley for his perpetually sweet expression, he could neither be left alone nor ride in a car because of his severe anxiety. With time and patience, George taught Smiley to not only like the car but to come to work where he would meet new people, eventually showing potential as a therapy dog. George shares Smiley’s journey from timid rescue to St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog, where Smiley would visit hundreds of hospitals, senior homes, and schools each year. Upbeat and never maudlin, this title is great for talking about compassion and perseverance.


Dog Science Unleashed: Fun Activities to Do with Your Canine Companion by Jodi Wheeler-Toppen

Ages 8–12

This one isn’t out until August, but I have to include it. It has experiments! That you can do with your dog! Dog Science Unleashed offers 22 fun and safe activities that you and your furry “lab assistant” can do together. Learn why your dog sometimes hears things you don’t, what his heart rate can tell you, and which colors, if any, your dog can see (and why). Step-by-step instructions and photographs shot specifically for this book make this title one to look forward to!


Sheri Boggs

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