Tag Archives: emotions

PPBF – Being a Dog: A Tail of Mindfulness

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!

Perfect Pairing – for a Cloudy Day

I found these two new picture books sitting on a shelf near each other in the Children’s Room at the New York Public Library. Perhaps it was a hint that they’d make a perfect pairing?

Lola Shapes the Sky

Author: Wendy Greenley

Illustrator: Paolo Domeniconi

Publisher/Date: Creative Editions/2019

Ages: 4-8

Themes: clouds, imagination, creativity, weather, acceptance

Short Synopsis (from Goodreads):

A cloud with a mind of her own and a gift for making awe-inspiring shapes encourages her friends to go beyond their practical functions and expand their imaginative horizons.

Read a review by Julie Rowan-Zoch.

Picture the Sky

Author & Illustrator: Barbara Reid

Publisher/Date: Scholastic Canada/2019

Ages: 4-8

Themes: sky, clouds, environment, emotions, art, weather

Short Synopsis (from Goodreads):

In this companion to the bestselling Picture a Tree, Barbara Reid has us look up . . . way up

Wherever we may be, we share the same sky. But every hour, every day, every season, whether in the city or the forest, it is different. The sky tells many stories: in the weather, in the clouds, in the stars, in the imagination. Renowned artist Barbara Reid brings her unique vision to a new topic – the sky around us. In brilliant Plasticine illustrations, she envisions the sky above and around us in all its moods.

Picture the sky. How do you feel?

Read a review at Kirkus Reviews.

I paired these books because they both encourage readers to imaginatively look up at the sky, and find magic in the clouds. But while the folks down on the ground are the main characters of Picture the Sky, the clouds, and in particular, Lola, take center stage in Lola Shapes the Sky.