Dog Days of August: Fun Books and Videos About Our Favorite House Pets (page 2)
Dog days of summer getting to you?
You know what they say: Every dog has its day. But come the last sultry weeks of summertime, seems like the canine species gets more than a month! These four to six weeks from late July through all of August and into early September have been known as "The Dog Days" since antiquity. The early Greeks and Romans blamed summer's hottest stretch on the Dog Star, Sirius, the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major, that for more than a month would rise and shine with the sun-and, they thought, intensify the sun's heat. So bright that it was visible in the daytime sky, the ancients considered Sirius (from the ancient Greek for "scorching") to be a beacon of the changing seasons and a predictor the future-not to mention the cause of many a maladies.
Not that the ancients were barking up the wrong tree, but nowadays Sirius rises in the fall and winter. Yet, the term "dog days of summer" has stuck like a sweaty T-shirt against hot leather bucket seats. Only now it has more to do with that all-too-familiar 98-in-the-shade daze or how kids start hangdogging during the last weeks of summer vacation as back-to-school dread begins to gnaw at them like a teething puppy in a furniture shop.But letting those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer get the best of you is like the tail waggin the dog. In our dogged pursuit of excellence in children's entertainment and educational products, we've dug up a few titles that are a breed apart in engaging young minds-even during these doldrum days of August. So, it's not too late to let summer go to the dogs. Just make sure it's the top dogs like these below.
-Ann and Don Oldenburg
Parents Choice reviewers and the authors of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lover's Companion" (Foghorn Press), a guidebook of places to go and things to do with your pooch-from the doggy perspective!
Blue's Clues: Rhythm and Blue
Ages 2 - 5 yrs.
Paramount Home Entertainment, $9.95 (VHS)
Blue continues to charm as she teaches. Young children will be absorbed by solving Blue’s Clues, asking to see this show over and over again.
Clifford The Big Red Dog: Clifford Saves the
Day! and Clifford's Fluffiest Friend
Ages 3 - 12 yrs.
Scholastic Inc., $19.98
This video comes packed with eight fun, new Clifford episodes including Fluffed-Up Cleo, Cleo's Fair Share, Two's Company, and Circus Stars.
A Dog of Flanders
Ages 6 - 12 yrs.
Warner Home Video, $19.98
A remake of the original movie made in 1914, the story is about a poor farm boy named Nello who comes across a near-dead dog in the woods. He nurses the dog back to health and overtime to two become inseparable. As their friendship grow, Nello begins pursuing his dream of becoming an artist.
My Dog Skip
Ages 8 - 14 yrs.
Warner Home Video, $22.96
Set in the 1940's during World War II, this is a heart-warming story about nine-year-old Willie Morris, played by Malcolm In the Middle's Frankie Muniz, who is left alone when his only friend goes off to war. To ease the void, his parents get him a dog named Skip. Willie and Skip forge a strong and lasting bond, the kind the words "a boy and his dog" have always meant in the deepest sense.
A Day, A DogAll Ages
By Gabrielle Vincent
Front Street, $16.95
This astonishing wordless picture book tells the heart-rending story of an abandoned dog. In remarkable black-and-white pencil drawings, the artist shows us the dog being heedlessly thrown out of a car, chasing after it fruitlessly and giving up, at last, unwittingly causing a major highway accident. Older children and adults in large numbers will be caught up in this powerful documentary in picture-book form.
Three More Stories You Can Read to the
By Sara Swan Miller
Houghton Mifflin Co., $14.00
Any child who has a dog member of the family, as well as those who wish they had one, will enjoy these canine adventures from daily life: going to the vet, longing for a friend to play with, and being strong-armed into taking a bath. It won't take a young human listener long to notice the resemblances to his or her own daily-life adventures.
By Rosemary Wells, Illustrated by Susan Jeffers
Henry Holt and Company Books for Young Readers, ISBN: 0-8050-3794-2, $16.95
An unorthodox picture-book text, to be sure, but this sensitive rendition of Eric Knight's 1938 classic about the much-loved collie that refuses to be separated from her young master is sure to win a large, latter-day audience of younger listener/viewers. The book's uplifting message that - just occasionally - love does conquer all is yet another plus.
Sally Goes to the Beach
Ages 2 - 4 yrs.
By Stephen Huneck
Harry N. Abrams, Inc., $17.95
This handsome, oversized book, illustrated by bold color woodcuts, gives youngest listener/viewers a dog's-eye view of a summer vacation at the beach. Sally, a black Labrador, takes a first timer's enthusiastic delight in the sights, sounds and sensations of a day in the sun, sea and sand.
Sally Goes to the Mountains
Ages 4 - 8 yrs.
By Stephen Huneck
Harry N. Abrams, Inc., ISBN: 0-8109-4485-5, $17.95
Join Sally, our curious black Labrador, on her first camping trip to the mountains.
I'm Not Going to Chase the Cat
Ages 3 - 7 yrs.
By Jessica Harper
Harper Collins, $15.95
This sprightly cautionary tale in enthusiastic support of the adage "One good turn deserves another," tells what happens when the family dog awakes from a nap resolving that he will not chase the cat today. His surprising change of heart inspires the family cat to decide not to chase the resident mouse. One act leads humorously into another and before too long, the house erupts into a giant party. And what kid doesn't like a party?
Hondo & Fabian
Ages 3 - 9 yrs.
By Peter McCarty
Henry Holt and Company Books for Young Readers, ISBN: 0-8050-6352-8, $16.95
Hondo, an ingratiating dog, and Fabian, a laid-back cat, are friends. No adult who ever loved a dog-- or cat-- is likely to pass this duo by: they are irresistible. Nothing world shaking happens to them: Hondo goes to the beach with Fred, a canine pal; Fabian stays at home where he's harassed by a child but then has solitary fun unrolling the toilet paper. But it is the masterful illustrations that are truly a treat in this book.
Ages 4 - 8 yrs.
By Jennifer Rae
Tricycle Press, $14.95
These re-tellings of classic fairy tales with a doggy twist are great fun. Some favorites include Jack Russell and the Beanstalk, Cindersmelly, and Rapawnzul, the star of the story, has very long ears. Jennifer Rae's tales are great fun and Rose Cowles' dressed-up dog illustrations fit the whimsy just right.
The Great Poochini
Ages 4 - 8 yrs.
By Gary Clement
Groundwood Books, $15.95
By day, he's Jack, a regular dog who lives in the city. By night, he's Signor Poochini, the great canine lyric opera singer. Tonight is the premiere of Dog Giovanni and he will be singing, until he realizes his usual escape route-the window-is locked! Writer and illustrator Gary Clement offers a sophisticated setting for a pun-filled, fun-filled tale.
Ages 4 - 8 yrs.
By Marsha Wilson Chall, Illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin
Dorling Kindersley Publishing Inc., ISBN: 0-7894-2617-X, $16.95
With appealing, richly detailed double-page illustrations in pencil and watercolor, Bonaparte tells the story of a resourceful French dog who is determined to find his boy master, Jean Claude, when the latter is shipped off to school in Paris. Resorting to a variety of droll costumes that will get him into an educational institution where “NO DOGS ARE ALLOWED”, Bonaparte, with his dogged determination, eventually gets his way.
Ages 4 - 8 yrs.
By Andrea U'Ren
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $16.00
If the adult who reads this appealingly illustrated work to a young child can accept the unlikely premise that Pugdog's master thinks his new pet is a boy dog when, in truth, he is a she, author/illustrator U'Ren's light-hearted frolic delivers an important message. Society treats boys and girls differently from birth, often imposing gender differences that are false and constricting. The book is fun, and its moral is one worth pondering.
Sidney Won't Swim
Ages 4 - 8 yrs.
By Hilde Schuurmans
Terrified by his teacher's announcement "Don't forget to bring your swimsuits. Tomorrow is your first swimming lesson!", Sidney proclaims angrily that "Swimming is the dumbest thing in the world." When he fails in all his attempts to avoid the lesson, his understanding swimming teacher allows him to watch from the edge of the pool. Any child who has been in Sidney's predicament--being scared and being afraid to admit it--will be riveted by his ordeal and its happy denouement.
The Stray Dog
Ages 4 - 8 yrs.
By Marc Simont
Harper Collins Childrens Books, $15.95
As winsome and irresistible a dog to find his way into a picture book in recent memory, Willy is rescued in the nick of time from the dog warden by as sympathetic and deserving a family as a listener/reader might hope for. The prize winning illustrator of almost 100 picture books in his long and distinguished career, Simont has lost none of his freshness or charm. His ink and watercolor drawings are a sheer delight.
Boodil, My Dog
Ages 4 - 8 yrs.
By Pija Lindenbaum
Henry Holt & Company, LLC, ISBN: 0-8050-3940-6, $5.95
Seemingly simple, the story of Boodil, the bullterrier, is actually complexly ironic. The reader perceives Boodil as lumpish, dithering, dawdling, obstinate, stubborn, and generally idiosyncratic; the child-narrator sees him as charming, playful, delightful, and original. So we have a masterful children's book - humorously painted with exceeding verve, told deadpan, and introducing young readers to the tricks of complex narrative.
Martha Blah Blah
Ages 4 - 8 yrs.
By Susan Meddaugh
Houghton Mifflin Children's Books, ISBN: 0-395-79755-1, $14.95
Meddaugh's exuberant, comic illustrations of Martha, a family dog who happens to learn how to talk from eating her favorite dish, "Granny's Alphabet Soup," are just garden variety genius. Instead of barking or whining, Martha orders steak for dinner in plain English. Everything's fine until the new owner of the soup company cuts costs by leaving out a few letters, and Martha, after eating her defective soup, manages only gibberish - that is, until she discovers a way to get the missing letters back into every can.
Ages 4 & Up
By Michael Rosen
Random House/Doubleday, $14.95
In this topsy-turvy picture book, the narrator is a good-natured garrulous dog who has a pet human being--small girl variety--named Rover. ("She has very weak claws. Her coat only covers her head.") Seeing the world through canine eyes both tickles the funny bone and broadens the listener's perspective.
Because of Winn-Dixie
Ages 8 & Up
By Kate DiCamillo
Candlewick Press, ISBN: 0-7636-0776-2, $15.99
Although she lives in the Friendly Corners Trailer Park, ten-year-old Opal has no friends. She and her preacher father have moved to Naomi Florida for her father’s new job. Here, on an errand to the local grocery store, Opal acquires a unique friend, a large brown stray that she names for the store Winn-Dixie. A totally lovable dog and likable characters are part of this humorously gentle, warm, enthralling story about all sorts of friendships.
The Canine Connection: Stories About Dogs and
Ages 10 - 14 yrs.
By Betsy Hearne
Simon & Schuster Children's/Margaret K. McElderry, ISBN: 0-689-85258-4, $15.95
A car thief makes the mistake of choosing a vintage Mercedes - left running - in the parking lot of a mall. Unbeknownst to the thief, the car is occupied by Clara's two dogs and her old grandmother. In twelve short stories, the author writes with insight into dogs and their sometimes worthy and sometimes not, human companions. The parts the dogs play in the lives of their people are touching (literally), comforting, and frequently amazing.
Ages 10 - 15 yrs.
By Anton Ferreira
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, ISBN: 0-374-39223-4, $16.00
Gillette, named for his razor-sharp teeth, is a bush dog. Losing his entire family plus his leg to a leopard, he becomes the beloved, hidden pet of an eleven-year-old Zulu. Vusi is determined to train Gillette to be a hunting dog despite the dog's handicap. Set in post-apartheid South Africa, the training of the Zulu dog, and the relationship of the children help to enlighten others during a frightening climax. Despite the realistically presented problems of South Africa, the story is exciting and hopeful.
The Captain's Dog: My Journey with the Lewis
and Clark Tribe
Ages 12 & Up
By Roland Smith
Harcourt Brace & Company, ISBN: 0-15-201989-8, $17.00
Born the runt of his litter and gambled away to a rusty old riverman, the Newfoundland pup Seaman doesn't imagine his life will be marked by any kind of glory--beyond chasing down rats. But when he meets Captain Meriwether Lewis, Seaman finds himself on a path that will make history. Part history, part science, and lots of adventure.
Lions, & Tigers & Whales, Oh My!
Planning a trip to your local zoo or aquarium? Give your kids a preview of what they'll see and do with the following animal-inspired books, videos, and music.
Reading to Dogs ... a "Pawsitive"
Dogs can be ideal reading companions for many reasons: they listen attentively; they do not judge, laugh or criticize; they encourage relaxation and lower blood pressure; and reading to digs is much less intimidating than asking kids to read to their peers.
Reprinted with the permission of the Parents' Choice Foundation. © Copyright 2012 Parents' Choice Foundation. All rights reserved.
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