Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Along Came a Dog

This is an odd review because I haven't read this book to a kid.
But many kids have strong interests in dogs, and my neighborhood
now lets you raise chickens, so this book seemed timely. 
There must be kids out there fascinated by dog/chicken behavior, right?
One of my favorite authors for kids, Erik P. Kraft,  
has become so chicken obsessed he even blogs and podcasts 
on the subject, so if you have a chicken loving child, 
there is ample material for them to hear/view
(enjoy his stuff yourself first, not all of his chicken experiences may be appropriate for younger or more sensitive viewers, 
though most are funny).
Getting back to the book: 
Along Came a Dog is by Meindert De Jong, 
author of The Wheel on the School
and illustrated by Maurice Sendak. 
It's the story of a little red hen,
(my boy would quote you the A. A. Milne poem), 
her owner, and a stray dog looking for a home.
It is filled with interesting examples of chicken and dog behavior,
and human misunderstanding of same.
Since this is a children's book, all ends happily, though there is
one animal death (the bossy rooster).
Don't expect much from the Sendak illustrations which
never rise above the serviceable. Their presence may
help if your child is still transitioning from picture books, 
and likes to find a few illustrations when flipping through, 
or if your child has trouble visualizing characters.
I think of this one as a read aloud from about six to twelve,
but it could be a good read alone for eight to thirteens, 
especially if your child is speeding ahead of you in their
interest in animals. The emotions are simple, and motivations
are clear. The man likes animals, and he wants his own
poultry farm. The hen wants a family of chicks. 
The dog, as previously mentioned, wants a home.
De Jong's books, like those of Dick King-Smith,
have animals at their heart. But unlike King-Smith 
(Babe, Lady Lollipop) De Jong avoids fantasy and 
anthropomorphic animals. His animals behave like
real animals, while remaining lovable companions.
While I adore fantasy, I think that stories grounded in
reality may have special value for kids with autism.
So if you're looking for reality, dogs, and chickens,
read this to your child. And please tell me how it 
-Spectrum Mom