Dog, by Matthew Van Fleet, photography by Brian Stanton
(2007, Simon & Schuster, ISBN 978-1-4169-4137-8, 1-4169-4137-1)
Starting right on the front cover, the simply titled Dog is packed full of interactive elements and a variety of friendly canines just waiting to be loved! This is just one of Matthew Van Fleet’s fun novelty (also called toy) books; Cat, Tails, and Fuzzy Yellow Ducklings are other titles in this series of sturdy touch-and-feel, lift-the-flap, and pull-the-tab books.
Throughout this book, pages of simple rhyming text document differences in dog behavior and appearance. While opposites are perhaps the most common, there are also groups of different textures, emotions, and actions for comparison. The text introduces small children to a descriptive vocabulary they might not pick up in everyday conversation but isn’t beyond their comprehension; they meet dogs that are “good” and “bad,” of course, but also “fluffy,” “scruffy,” and “droopy.” A suitable dog illustrates each line and is often accompanied by an interactive element such as a section of texture representing an adjective or a pull-tab for an action verb. For instance, a tuft of hair on the head of a Teacup Maltese demonstrates the “[s]ilky dog” and a pull-tab makes the “itchy dog” (a Jack Russell Terrier) scratch his chin with his back paw. The dogs—usually three to six per page spread—are featured on a plain white background so there is nothing to distract from the words and corresponding animals. The very last spread has fold out pages and shows all of the dogs (with their names and breeds)…and one special hidden cat!
GirlChild and BoyChild’s Reactions: We’ve had this book for three well-loved years, and the only problems we’ve had are that the head is missing from the wet dog that goes “shake, shake, shake!” (although we could have easily restored that to working order if I hadn’t lost the head before I remembered to find the glue!) and the tongue of the “[d]rooly dog” doesn’t stick anymore. GirlChild chooses this book to read with us on a semi-regular basis, and when she does, she wants it several days in a row. She, of course, loves the “all dogs pee” part, but I think her favorite is the single cat hiding at the end of the book. BoyChild recently got in on the action, too, and at almost eight months of age, his favorite one is the Old English Sheepdog (“[s]haggy dog”) with its coarse, wooly fur to pet. (My favorite is the “[s]oft ears floppy” on an adorable Dachshund puppy!) This book (not to mention its companions) is a great read for infants through preschoolers.