________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 16 . . . .April 14, 2006


If I Had a Dog.

Carolyn Jackson. Illustrated by France Brassard.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 2006.
32 pp., cloth, $22.99.
ISBN 0-88776-725-7.

Subject Heading:
Dogs-Juvenile fiction.

Preschool-grade 3 / Ages 4-8.

Review by Karen Kiddey.

*** /4



As they walked along, Maxine and Hugh saw a woman with a tiny dog on a leash. Maxine darted toward it. "Stop, Maxine!" Hugh warned. He remembered what he had learned when his class visited an animal clinic.

"You should ask the lady if you can pat her dog. If she says yes, walk up to it slowly and calmly, " Hugh said. "Then stretch out your hand and let the dog sniff you. After that you can pat him. Patting on the shoulder is best."


This engaging picture book tells the story of a little girl's love of dogs and her intense longing to have one as a pet. Six-year old Maxine is passionate about dogs. She dreams about them, she collects stuffed toy dogs, and she's even been known to bring a neighbour's dog home with her in the hopes that her parents will let her keep it.

     As the story unfolds, it turns out that Maxine has a lot to learn about dogs. When Maxine and her big brother Hugh set out for the park one day, they encounter a friend's dog and her four puppies, a woman with a tiny dog on a leash, a guard dog protecting Morgan's Garage, and a working dog in harness as he helps his sight-disabled owner across the street. In each situation, her brother Hugh, who has been learning about dogs at school, teaches her important information on how to approach dogs in different situations safely, and how to read and react to their own particular body language.

     The children will discover that all this new knowledge about caring for a dog will soon come in very handy. After a full afternoon of these canine encounters, Maxine and Hugh are in for the best surprise of all when they return home to find a wiggling little bundle of fur to call their own!

internal art     This story of a little girl's wish for a pet of her own manages to remains lighthearted and charming while it imparts solid, reliable information on how to safely approach dogs in various situations. The language is simple and clear, interspersed with believable dialogue.

     Carolyn Jackson successfully uses her skills as a journalist and nonfiction writer to teach children how to act and react safely with dogs. This book would be an ideal companion piece for any family who was thinking about getting a dog for a child, and it could also be used as an introduction to pet care and safety in the classroom.

     The gently coloured watercolour illustrations by France Brassard bring a joyful note of authenticity to the story. The inclusion of cameos of various dog breeds throughout the book and fun details like the dog-headed umbrellas and dog-bone wallpaper in Maxine's house add a "let's go back and look again" feature to the story.


Karen Kiddey is the Manager of Library Services, Selkirk & St. Andrews Regional Library, Selkirk, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
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