As the Dog Days of Summer near, I think this is a wonderful time to discover what it means to be a dog in today’s Perfect Picture Book.
Title: Being a Dog: A Tail of Mindfulness
Written By: Maria Gianferrari
Illustrated By: Pete Oswald
Publisher/Date: Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers/2022
Suitable for Ages: 4-8
Themes/Topics: dogs, mindfulness, emotions
Can you be like a dog? Being like a dog is BE-ing. Right now.
Brief Synopsis: Follow a dog and its person through the day as they experience each moment.
Links to Resources:
- Check out the back matter that encourages experiencing nature and the seasons like a dog, and offers a mindful breathing exercise;
- Do you have a dog? What makes it happy and how does it show it? How does your dog show that it’s sad or scared? How do you show these emotions?
Why I Like this Book:
From the first line, Gianferrari addresses the reader directly and invites them to discover what being a dog is all about. The story begins not “before”, when the pup sleeps, or “after”, when he eats, but “now” when he and his person stretch and greet the day. From there, readers discover how the unnamed dog savors every moment. The text encourages us to join in the fun, whether it’s wagging your body, playing with friends, or being curious. Gianferrari also shows how dogs feel and express emotions, barking when worried, growling when angry, yowling when sad, but singing when happy. Text and illustrations show how you can do the same.
I especially like the idea of relaxing and letting “the wind ruffle your fur”. I think parents will enjoy the suggestion to “sleep like a dog” at the end of a day spent being in each moment, just like a dog.
Using cutout paper and scanned watercolor textures, Oswald deftly captures each moment. The child could be male or female, and the dog doesn’t appear to be any particular breed.
In the back matter, Gianferrari encourages readers to take a “mindful nature walk” and use their senses like a dog in every season, and provides a helpful breathing exercise.
Whether read at bedtime or in a library or classroom setting where kids can practice wagging, yowling, and howling, Being a Dog is a wonderful reminder to live in the moment, just like our furry friends.
A Note about Craft:
From the first line, Gianferrari draws the reader in by addressing us directly and asking us a question: can we be like a dog. She then explains that being like a dog means to BE, to live fully in the moment. Gianferrari then follows a dog and its owner through a day, and she shows readers how a dog lives fully in the moment and how we can, too. It’s clear that Gianferrari is a dog-lover and knows them well. To learn why she wrote this book, see interviews at Writing for Kids (While Raising Them) and on Picture Book Builders.
As August is a month to be out and about and enjoying the Dog Days of Summer, I’ll be taking a break, with plans to be back with more Perfect Picture Books in September.
This Perfect Picture Book entry will be added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!