Cole, Henry. Forever Home: A Dog and Boy Love Story. New York: Scholastic Inc., 2022.
A forlorn little dog is left behind when its owners move. A sad little boy longs to have a dog. The two meet and find happiness in this wordless picture book by an award-winning author. The feelings of longing and love in the illustrations are enhanced by a red leash and collar, the only spots of colour in the finely detailed black and white drawings. 
The little boy in this story lives with two dads. Some readers may object, saying it normalizes what they believe is wrong. Others may rejoice, saying that at last same sex couples are becoming normalized. I think that the relationship is not important to the central idea of the story: adopting a homeless animal brings love to life! Highly recommended for anyone who has longed for a pet (and would-be artists who admire black and white drawings).

Cordell, Matthew. Bear Island. New York: Feiwel and Friends, 2021.
Some picture books are wordless, like Forever Home: A Dog and Boy Love Story by Henry Cole. Some have illustrations to accompany the text, like Peg Bearskin by Philip Dinn. And others have illustrations that help tell the story, like this one: Bear Island. Even before the title page, five pages of pictures start the story of a little girl grieving the death of Charlie, her dog. Louise paddles a boat to a little island where she meets a bear who is also sad. All summer long, the two spend time together until winter arrives and it is time for Bear to sleep. “It’s not fair,” she thinks, “when the things we love must end.” But a glimpse of hope comes on the last page: an illustration of a new puppy. Created by the 2018 Caldecott winner, this introspective story of loss and new life is recommended for readers five to 10 years old.
Something to talk about: What do you learn from the pictures that isn’t told by the words?
Something to do: divide a collection of picture books into three categories: wordless, pictures that illustrate the words, pictures that help tell the story. What do you notice?
Tip: Books published by Feiwel and Friends are reliably wonderful. Watch for them!

Cumyn, Alan. North to Benjamin. New York: Atheneum Books For Young Readers, 2018.
Edgar is eleven years old. Not only enough to live on his own. But his mother has problems, which don’t disappear even once they move to Dawson, Yukon to start again. Only a dog named Benjamin is able to help rescue Edgar from certain disaster. This heart-breaking yet hope-filled novel by an award-winning Canadian writer is recommended for readers 11 to 16 years old. [Alcoholism; Dogs; Yukon]

DiCamillo, Kate. Good Rosie! Somerville, Massachusetts: Candlewick Press, 2018.
Rosie is a good dog. But she’s lonely sometimes. George takes her to the dog park, but she feels overwhelmed. How will she find a friend? How can she make a friend? This delightful picture book, illustrated by Harry Bliss, will charm readers 4 to 12 years old.

Dowell, Frances O’Roark. Trouble the Water. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2016.

An old yellow dog brings Cassie and Wendell – a black girl and a white boy – together in racially segregated Kentucky in 1953. Buddy leads them to a ramshackle cabin in the woods where two invisible boys are waiting to cross the nearby river. Partly historical fiction, partly a ghost story, this memorable novel by a thought-provoking writer is highly recommended for readers 10 to 15 years old.

P.S. Do you know the story of how Jesus healed the sick man by the pool of Bethesda? The man who never got to the pool in time to be healed after an angel ‘troubled the water’? You might like to read about it in John 5 after you read Dowell’s story. Then you might like to think about the Pharisees in the Bible and the townspeople in the story. And think about that pool at the end of the novel. Might you be called to be an angel?

Lies, Brian. The Rough Patch. New York: Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2018.
Everything is wonderful. Until it isn’t. Evan’s best friend – his dog – dies. And life becomes dark and angry. Until, in autumn, Evan takes a pumpkin from his garden and goes to the town fair. He sees some friends, wins a prize, and goes home with a new puppy. A story of loss and grief but also hope. A perfect picture book, told not only with words but also through illustrations. A 2019 Caldecott Honor Book. Recommended for readers 5 to 11 years old. 

Maclachlan, Patricia. The Poet’s Dog. New York: Katherine Tegen Books, 2016.
Are we really loved? Will will be remembered when we’re gone? Who will save us when we’re lost?
This short easy-to-read novel told from the point of view of an Irish wolfhound portrays the abiding bond between people and animals. It demonstrates the power of poetry and the mysterious connections that carry us through hardships. A philosophical story highly recommended for readers and listeners 6 years old and up. [Blizzards; Brothers and sisters; Dogs Grief; Human-animal relationships; Loss (Psychological); Poets]

“Dogs do speak, but only to those who know how to listen.” Orhan Pamuk, Turkish novelist

McCarthy, Meghan. The Incredible Life of Balto. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2011. 

 In 1925, people were dying of diphtheria in Nome, Alaska. Fortunately, they were saved by a serum delivered to their remote town by Balto, a sled dog. But what happened to brave Balto? Life did not go so well for him, at least not until a businessman came to his rescue and saved his life. This colourful picture book – a true story – is recommended for dog lovers 7 years old and up. [Alaska; Balto; Diphtheria; Sled dogs] 

Perkins, Lynne Rae. Frank and Lucky Get Schooled. New York: Greenwillow Books, 2016.
Frank and Lucky – a boy and a dog – have fun learning together. Botany. Entomology. Chemistry. Astronomy. Taxonomy. Reading. Math. History. Art. Geography. Foreign Languages. And Hospitality. Together, they discover that they are learning inside, outside, everywhere they go. A joyous story for all ages to enjoy together.

Spinelli, Eileen. Do You Have a Dog? Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2011.
Eleven historical figures who enjoyed dogs are featured in this picture book cheerfully illustrated by Geraldo Valério. Empress Josephine Bonaparte, Admiral Richard Byrd, Agatha Christie, Billie Holiday, Helen Keller, Meriwether Lewis, Sir Isaac Newton, Annie Oakley, Jackson Pollock, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Orville Wright. Happily recommended for young listeners and older reluctant readers. [Biographies; Dogs; Stories in rhyme]

Stead, Philip C. Every Dog in the Neighborhood. New York: Holiday House, 2022.
If you like picture books, you probably already know that Philip Stead is a wonderful writer. If you’ve studied picture books, you already know that illustrations provide additional information to enhance the story. If you’re a teacher, you already like books that can be integrated into more than one subject. Well, this newest story by Stead is his most brilliant book yet. It’s as funny and heart-warming as the Moffat stories by Estes. Caldecott Medal winner Matthew Cordell’s illustrations are full of humorous details including a dog called E.B. who dreams of writing stories and a musician who owns two dogs called Thelonious and Monk. Younger students will be inspired to write their own letters and think of their own surveys to do after reading about Louis’s inventory of dogs. Older students will enjoy seeing how writers incorporate intriguing allusions requiring background knowledge to understand. Adults will appreciate Grandma’s complaints about city hall and how you sometimes just have to take care of things yourself. Highly recommended for everyone who likes picture books.

Turner, Pamela S. Hachiko: The True Story of a Loyal Dog. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2004.
Do animals feel emotions? Anyone who has ever lived with a dog knows that they feel many emotions: fear, joy, loneliness…. And of course, loyalty. This short story, presented as a picture book illustrated by the award-winning Yan Nascimbene, describes the history behind a statue at a famous Tokyo train station. While the main character – a young boy – has been invented, the story of Hachiko – a dog who for almost ten years faithfully went to the station every day, hoping to once again meet his master who had died – is true. This touching story set in the 1920s is appended with two pages of historical information and is recommended for dog lovers of all ages.

Where the Red Fern Grows

If you liked . . .
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls,
you might like these stories, too!

Old Yeller

Old Yeller by F. Gipson
– a boy’s adventures with his dog in the hill country of Texas


Shiloh by P.R. Naylor
– a boy’s attempt to save a beagle from mistreatment in the West Virginia hills

Big Red

Big Red by Jim Kjelgaard
– a boy’s adventures in the wilderness with an Irish setter


Sounder by W. Armstrong
– a boy’s struggle to help his family survive in the American South

Picture 5

MacLachlan, Patricia. The Truth of Me: About a Boy, His Grandmother, and a Very Good Dog. New York, NY : Katherine Tegen Books, 2013.
“Robbie and his dog, Ellie, spend the summer at his grandmother Maddy’s house, where Robbie learns many things about his emotionally distant parents and himself.” – CIP. Recommended for readers 9 to 13 years old. [Dogs; Grandmothers; Individuality; Parent and child; Summer]

The Good Dog

Avi. The Good Dog. New York: Aladdin Paperbacks, 2003, c2001.

“McKinley, a malamute, is torn between the domestic world of his human family and the wild world of Lupin, a wolf that is trying to recruit dogs to replenish the dwindling wolf pack.” – WAFMS. [Colorado; Dogs; Wolves]

And if you want a great story about a boy and his pet raccoon, read… 


Rascal by Sterling North
– a boy’s adventures with a pet raccoon in the woods of the northeastern U.S.; based on the author’s own childhood

Your Responses and Reviews!

Champ by Marcia Thornton Jones (Marcia Thornton Jones, 2007) is a great book to read. The story starts in Riley’s front yard where he and his friend, Kaylee, are playing baseball. Riley runs out to the street to fetch the ball. As he stops at the curb, a car goes skidding past him, doing a full circle, and crashes cruelly into a tree. The driver, a professional dog trainer, and her champion show dog named Champ get out of the car. Everyone is stunned to see that one of the dog’s legs is missing and are even more horrified when they learn that the owner of the border collie does not want him anymore because he won’t be able to enter any more competitions. Riley wants him and fortunately, a vet offers to let Riley work in exchange for free medical treatment for Champ. Riley helps his new dog gain back his strength and teaches him some new tricks. When he enters Champ into a local competition, Riley doesn’t even care about winning. He just wants to show everyone that Champ can still be the best, even if he has only three legs. Will Riley achieve his goal? Will everyone be proud of Riley and Champ? (Megan in grade eight)

…our class is reading a good book called Rascal. It has pictures but not many because it’s a chapter book. Rascal is about a boy named Sterling who finds a baby raccoon that didn’t go with his mother when she left with three other raccoons. Sterling offers his friend Oscar the raccoon. Oscar says that his father will get angry because he hunts raccoons. So, Sterling keeps the raccoon, names it Rascal and makes it his pet. (Logan in gr. 7)

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One thought on “Dogs

  1. Why do dogs sit on your feet?
    Dogs may sit on their owner’s feet for a number of reasons. One possibility is that it is a sign of affection and bonding. Dogs are packed animals and sitting close to their owners, touching or leaning on them can be a way of expressing their affection and claiming you as their pack member. Additionally, dogs may sit on your feet as a way of seeking attention and affection from you, or as a way of feeling more secure and protected.
    Also, dogs may have learned through positive reinforcement that sitting on their feet will provide them with some rewards like petting, treats, or attention.
    It’s also worth noting that some breeds or individual dogs may have a more pronounced need for physical contact than others, this could also be a reason why they sit on your feet.

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