________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 15 . . . . March 28, 2003


This is the Dog.

Sheryl McFarlane. Illustrated by Chrissie Wysotski.
Toronto, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2003.
32 pp., cloth, $19.95.
ISBN 1-55041-551-4.

Subject Headings:
Puppies-Juvenile fiction.
Dogs-Juvenile fiction.

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7.

Review by Valerie Nielsen.

***½ /4

Reviewed from prepublication copy.

Parents and teachers are well aware of the special interest and enthusiasm which animal stories evoke among young readers. This is the Dog, Sheryl McFarlane's latest picture book which features the adventures of a run-away puppy and his frustrated young owner, is just such a tale.

This is the dog
too excited to stay,
a tail-wagging puppy
all ready to play.

     Trailing clothes from the wash basket, the pup leads his young mistress on a series of misadventures. A trail of destruction follows in his wake as he steals food, sends a teacher’s papers flying, does battle with some seagulls and ruins an almost-completed sand castle. The canine criminal is finally brought up short by (what else?) a cat.

This is the tomcat
that no dog should chase,
not if he values the nose
on his face.

internal art

     Wounded in spirit and body, the pup hitches a ride home to face the music in a wagon full of dolls. There, he and his young owner are bathed and cuddled and forgiven their trespasses, at least this time.

     Sheryl McFarlane will be remembered as the winner of the Governor General's Literary Award for Waiting for the Whales as well as other popular picture books with a west coast setting such as Eagle Dreams and Jessie's Island. The text of This is the Dog with its bouncy four-line verses modeled on the nursery rhyme "This is the house that Jack built" is sure to delight young listeners. Chrissie Wysotski's illustrations of the irrepressible dog (who appears to be related to a golden retriever) and his antics are hilarious. The full range of emotions, including shock, disgust, delight and exasperation are wonderfully portrayed on the faces of the humans who get in the way of the pup's exuberance.

     The hero of This is the Dog is such an irresistible mutt that readers of all ages will find it easy to understand the total forgiveness which awaits him at the end of the story. Primary teachers can expect beginning readers to enjoy the rhyming text and may want to encourage their students to try writing some four line verses of their own based on a real or imaginary pet.

Highly Recommended.

A retired teacher-librarian, Valerie Nielsen lives in Winnipeg, MB.


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