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First Dog Hardcover – April 13, 2009
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From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 2—In this story that encourages animal adoption, a Portuguese water dog wanders the world in search of the perfect place to live. The stray encounters 10 fellow canines along the way, including a Newfoundland and Russian wolfhound in their homelands, a Shar-Pei at the Great Wall, and a dingo in Australia. None of their habitats suit him. Returning to his old neighborhood, the pooch reads a newspaper headline, "First Family Looks for Dog." He squeezes through the wrought iron gate and trots to the White House entrance, where he sits in front of an open door exposing two pairs of legs. A single line of text reads, "Daddy, Daddy, can we keep him?" The authors slam-dunk the story with an emphatic, "Yes, we can!" A view of the dog sprawled asleep on the Oval Office carpet follows. Bowers's realistic yet comic illustrations blend rich vistas with charming poses and great facial expressions. The endpapers give facts about each breed the pup met along the way. Curiously, a Portuguese water dog is not included. Lewis and his daughter dedicate their book to those in the rescue community and offer ways to help these organizations. This makes one willing to give the authors license and overlook the fact that the Obama dog did not come from a shelter.—Gay Lynn Van Vleck, Henrico County Library, Glen Allen, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
If I'm going to blog about any book this month, I NEED it to be First Dog. I have such a passion for rescuing dogs and hearing stories about animals no one wants finally finding the perfect forever home, and this little book...this wonderful, magnificent book, takes a current, real story in our country, and turns it into a beautiful, lovely picture book, perfect for little kids.
First Dog is written by J. Patrick Lewis and Beth Zappitello and illustrated by the magnificent Tim Bowers. In it, we find a dog, traveling the world to find the perfect home. Along the way, in Newfoundland, England, China, Russia, and many other countries, the dog meets lots of other dogs, each with different talents and qualities of their own, but no perfect home for himself.
After arriving back in the States after a very long journey, the dog sees a newspaper article, telling of a very special family that is looking for their "First Dog," leading the sweet animal to go searching for this special family, thinking maybe HE could be their First Dog. Does he find his perfect, forever home? Why yes he does!!
Being that President Obama and First Lady Michelle have promised their daughters a dog to live with them in the White House, this adorable, lovable story has perfect timing! The illustrations are beautiful, the dog just plain cute. Encouraging families to adopt a pet, rather than purchase is a great message sewn into a wonderful picture book. Absolutely one of my favorite stories of the year thus far.
Fantastic! --Amanda Snow from apatchworkofbooks.blogspot.com
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"First Dog" is one of those wonderful children's books that entertain (check), inform (check), and educate (check)--each delightfully so. There's no stalling--the creators begin immediately with this first sentence: "Once upon a time there was a dog that was looking for the perfect place to live." As he reads the headlines from a man's newspaper, he learns that "even dogs need new homes." You know, tough times. Well, I'll have to go elsewhere to find a perfect home, he thinks.
The second part of the "wonderful" equation comes in with information (could also pass for education). As the dog travels the world--an entertaining story in itself, he meets the famous breed of dog of each country. The illustrator also inserts two or three famous places characteristic of the country: red telephone booth, Big Ben, the tower of Westminster, and of course, the English bulldog--in England, of course.
In Kenya he meets a Rhodesian Ridgeback, who hunts lions! What a shocker! In Peru he meets a Peruvian Hairless, which he learns is a pampered pooch because he's such a great bed-warmer.
In all, he meets ten lovely canines. The reader is given information about each breed on both sets of end pages. The education (to educate=to change), however, comes on the last printed page: "It is estimated that there are over four million abandoned dogs in the United States." Mind boggling, isn't it? There's a nice promo about rescuing/adopting a dog or cat from an animal shelter. Even if you cannot, you can donate money or actual goods to the shelter: food, toys, bedding.
Why four stars? "First Dog" is such a good book, but there is one, just one, serious omission. The breed of First Dog is never mentioned. He does not appear in any of those ten blocks. Can you believe it? No information about First Dog?!
I beg your pardon? How does he become First Dog? I didn't say, did I?
Father-Daughter duo J. Patrick Lewis and Beth Zappitello bring readers an interesting and fact-filled story about a lonely globe-trotting dog with their perfectly timed release coinciding with the White House dog announcement. Tim Bower's cute illustrations (created using oil paint on canvas) perfectly capture the innocent puppy expression, depict many famous landmarks around the world and creatively include some newer technologies like the Segway.
The dog in the book looks exactly like a Portuguese water dog. Apparently this choice wasn't by accident, but carefully planned. Because the book features so many different places around the world, it makes an entertaining lesson in geography. The endpapers list ten different dog breeds included in the story along with fun breed facts. We actually learned quite about some breeds we hadn't ever heard of by reading the book. The only thing that perplexes me...why aren't any facts about the Portuguese water dog breed listed? Here are the breeds/destinations discussed in the story, in case you are wondering if your favorites made the cut:
Newfoundland - Newfoundland * London - English Bulldog * France - Poodle * Croatia - Dalmatian * Russia - Borzoi * China - Chinese Char-Pei * Australia - Dingo * South Africa - Rhodesian Ridgeback * South America - Peruvian Hairless * Mexico - Chihuahua
Besides the current events connection, this book makes a great adopt-a-pet read. It makes me want to go to our local shelter and find a new friend for our family.