In a Nutshell Kid Lit Book Reviews: Dogs

snowy girl  There are many things I love.  Dogs are near the top of my favorites list.  This is my beloved cocker spaniel, Heather.  She just turned ten years old.  Heather is a rescue dog.  I adopted her three years ago.  She loves the snow like I do.  So, for this edition of nutshell book reviews, I picked books with canine themes.  Soon, I’ll be writing a kids’ book about Heather.  I already have the basic idea and the title for it.  I’ll share more about that soon.  Stay tuned for a sneak peek!  Without realizing it, I picked a number of books by Cynthia Rylant, another dog lovin’ author.  There will be a second edition of this book reviews tomorrow, with a wintry theme.

nutshell reviews feb 006          This is a sweet description for young children (2-5) of an imagined heaven for dogs.  The sentiments about how much dogs should be loved, hopefully will inspire higher levels of compassion for all canines (and other pets too!) in children and their parents.  Just like kids, our animals should be marinated in love.  We can have a kindler, gentler world here too.

nutshell reviews feb 007   Martha Jane is a constant companion of her owner, and even goes to work with her, in the bookshop.  Martha Jane is adored by all.  When people in town hear she needs a sitter because there is one place her “doggy mama” can’t take her—the hospital, they all vie for the chance.  Martha Jane doesn’t know who to choose, and people begin fighting about it.  One man has been a weekly visitor to the shop, and always talks softly to Martha Jane and brings her treats.  He calls her an “angel dog.”  He’s the only one not fighting with the others, and he becomes an easy choice for Martha Jane.  This is a delightful story that warmed my heart.  While I didn’t care for the illustrations, children may very well like them.

nutshell reviews feb 008

This is an adorable story with simple but pleasing watercolor illustrations.  It chronicles the travels of Owney, a highly adventurous dog.  It is a true story beginning in the late 1880’s.  Owney is a post office dog who traveled by rail and by sea, all over the world.  He sleeps curled up in mail bags, and collects tags from the places he’s been.  The story is encapsulated in a series of letters from postal clerks, who have unofficially adopted this dog.  Owney is a true nomad.  Even after he retires, his wanderlust makes him itchy to hit the trails again.

nutshell reviews feb 009          Laura Numeroff is also the author of “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie,” and other similar stories.  The illustrations are cute and fun.  This mini-adventure begins with the donut, and parallels the whimsical paths children go on from one pursuit to another.  Having one thing leads to desiring another, and details the journey of acquiring it, playing with it, and expressing delight in the experience.  Quite an enjoyable book, aimed at young children, perhaps 2-6 years of age.


Baltic stepped out on the ice, and it broke off carrying him far from shore, between Poland and Russia.  This is a true story.  Firemen tried and failed to rescue him.  Once the dog was out further a ship passed by and the crew spotted the stranded pooch and saved him.  Then one of the crew members adopted the dog and named him Baltic, after the sea they were in.  A lovely tale!  The illustrations were delightful, and conveyed the differences in temperature between the arctic air outside and the coziness of the ship’s cabin.  The amount of words on the page indicate this book is for the toddler and pre-school set.

nutshell reviews feb 011 Amelia very much wants a small brown dog with a wet pink nose.  Her parents don’t think she’s ready for the responsibility of a dog.  She decides to adopt an imaginary dog of that description.  She asked her parents many questions about what their family would do if they had a dog, and they answered them all patiently and sweetly.  Amelia began living with her dog “Bones.”  When he got out of the house and was lost, her parents helped look for her invisible dog, staying faithful to their reply when she asked what they would do if her hypothetical dog was lost—-look for him until they found him.  Their real search for Bones led to the animal shelter, where Amelia found him.  A lively story with amusing illustrations!

nutshell reviews feb 012    A family copes with large fears when an enormous black dog shows up in their yard.  Each member is so startled when they see the dog, they drop whatever they were holding.  When each describe the dog, he gets even bigger by their assessments.  They have different ideas of coping with this monstrous beast outside.  One wants to shut the drapes and pretend it isn’t out there, and another wants to turn the lights off, so the dog will think they aren’t home.  Ironically, the smallest member of the family is the one with the most courage.  She went out to face the dog on her own, despite their objections.  She was very smart, and told him if he was going to eat her, he had to catch her.  Then she outsmarted him at every turn, making it impossible for him to get close enough to eat her.  By the time she got home, the dog was normal-sized, and not so ferocious at all.  She brought him in, and her family realized he wasn’t fearsome at all.  This book had an intriguing way of contending with fear.  Loved it!  The illustrations were interesting and nice too!