Since 2010, Cathy Mere of Reflect and Refine Building a Learning Community and Mandy Robek of Enjoy and Embrace Learning have been hosting #pb10for10, a fabulous event for sharing the power of picture books! To view all #pb10for10 lists, please click here.
2020 is definitely a year that is unforgettable. Before COVID-19 closed school buildings and teaching became virtual, we had to say goodbye to my original book beagle Etta in February. While I miss her greatly, Etta’s legacy will always live on because she helped me launch Beagles and Books with my first post, which coincidentally was 2017 #pb10for10 celebrating dog books.
2020 marks my fourth year participating in #pb10for10. Click below to view my previous lists. Can you notice my trend?
Each week, I feature one dog book on my blog and Bella (adopted in 2018) now has taken over the role of book beagle full time. Dog books bring me so much joy which is why I am continuing the tradition of sharing my 10 favorite dog picture books of 2020.
Bringing Book Joy with Barkworthy Picture Books
This Is A Dog by Ross Collins (March 2020)
As you can see, the cover alone will elicit questions from kids. Why did the dog cross out the original title and write a new one underneath? On the first page spread, the text reads “This is a dog.” with an illustration of the same black and white dog from the cover. The next page spread reads ” This is a cat” with an accompanying cat illustration but the dog is peering onto this spread. As other animals are introduced on subsequent page spreads, more of the dog’s body appears. The dog scares the squirrel to the top of the page, pees near a giraffe’s back legs, and attempts to imitate an elephant. When the dog steals the word gorilla, the ape chases the dog and is joined by all the other animals featured in the book. The dog though still has a trick up his paw finding a way to steal the entire show (I mean book)! I can already hear the chuckles from children when This is a Dog is read aloud. What I love is that Ross’ text and illustrations match but the dog decides to tell a different story with him at the center. After reading, a discussion on character traits and feelings could occur to identify the dog’s over the top personality and the other animals’ annoyance.
Where’d My Jo Go? by Jill Esbaum Illustrated by Scott Brundage (April 2020)
Jo and Big Al are constant companions with Jo driving a big, blue rig and Big Al riding shotgun. Always together, wherever they go. When pup Big Al gets distracted playing and is accidentally left at a truck rest stop, he sits and stays. Two kids see Al and attempt to befriend him, but Al knows Jo will come back for him. And indeed she does and their reunion is epic. Esbaum’s rhyming text and Brundage’s expressive watercolor and pencil illustrations make Where’s My Jo Go? a heartwarming story. As a reader, I appreciate that Esbaum shares the inspiration for the story and how she wanted the dog to tell part of the story from his point of view. As a dog mom, I can emphasize with Jo when she realizes her precious Al is not in her truck with her. When we first adopted Bella, she attempted to chase a bunny out of our fenced yard. I immediately bought a GPS tracker to ensure Bella’s safety. If you look closely, you can see Bella’s Whistle tracker in some of her shelfies.
This Little Pup by Laura J. Bryant (April 2020)
This Little Pup is a charming and creative counting book. On the front endpapers, a little gray scruffy puppy eyes a blue ball in the grass. On the first page spread, readers see a little boy getting ready to bounce the ball to the puppy. Once the ball is bounced, the energetic puppy follows the ball passing by the many animals on the farm. Written in concise text in a larger font, counting and colors are reinforced as the puppy chases the ball all over the farm. Will the puppy finally catch it? I especially love that author/illustrator Laura J. Bryant utilizes all the space of each page spread as well as the end papers to tell the story with delicate and warm illustrations. Bold dashes show the immense bounce of the big blue ball. Children will love counting up all the animals on the last few spreads. And like the little pup asks for another round of fetch, young readers will also beg for second read.
Hound Won’t Go by Lisa Rogers Illustrated by Meg Ishihara (April 2020)
Hound Won’t Go is an fun and engaging story about a stubborn basset hound. What starts out as a leisurely walk turns into a traffic standstill when Hound won’t leave his spot in the street. Treats, tugs, horns, or stares will not change Hound’s mind. He just won’t go. But the sound of thunder does cause action and Hound wastes no time racing home with his owner following behind him. When he finally reaches home wet and tired, Hound shakes, jumps into bed, and cuddles with his person. Written in rhyme, Lisa Rogers’ amusing story really resonated with me because my sweet Etta had been known to show her stubborn side especially on a walk. Unlike Hound who won’t move, Etta would never let me stop to talk to a neighbor. She was always on the go ready to return home for a treat. Like Hound, Etta (years ago, when she could hear) hated thunder. She always went to her safe spot in the den and would burrow under pillows. Meg Ishihara’s adorable cartoon style illustrations of Hound are spot on showing his headstrong personality at the beginning of the story which quickly changes to fear when thunder erupts.
Two Dogs on a Trike by Gabi Snyder Illustrated by Robin Rosenthal (May 2020)
A dog goes on an adventure but is caught by a robe wearing, coffee drinking cat. As the dog jumps on a trike with a poodle, the cat sheds its morning wear for exercise clothes following the dog. As the dog switches modes of transportation adding more canine passengers, the cat follows suit changing its vehicle to keep pace. But once 10 dogs…wait, make that 9 dogs and 1 sly cat are traveling through space together, the countdown begins with dogs frantically wanting to return home. Once the dog is safe back in its yard, a mouse peers out of a small door to follow 2 cats on a trike. Hmm…I think another story is about to begin. Two Dogs on a Trike is so much more than a counting book. With Snyder’s concise rhyming text and Rosenthal’s expressive illustrations of a feline, canines (and a mouse), it is a hilarious romp!
This is Gus by Chris Chatterton (May 2020)
Gus is a grumpy basset hound who doesn’t like being petted, going for walks or celebrating birthdays. But wait! Once a basset pup arrives on the scene, maybe Gus will change his mind. And while the text may say Gus now likes things, the illustrations clearly show his distaste for everything except…sausage. Gus likes the smell, shape, and taste of sausage. Guess who else likes sausage? The basset pup. Will Gus be willing to share his sausage? Like Ryan Higgins’ Bruce, This is Gus might be a grouch but he truly has a heart of gold.
A Family for Louie by Alexandra Thompson (June 2020)
Foodie French bulldog Louie thinks his life is full. He has fine food, a comfortable home, and books to read. But one day he realizes the one thing he is missing is a family. But how you find a family? Each time Louie sees what he thinks is a potential match, something is not right. Will Louie ever find a family to call his own? Debut author/illustrator Alexandra Thompson has written and illustrated a charming story about food, friendship, and family. Louie is simply adorable and Thompson’s use of soft colors in her illustrations evokes a sense of warmth and calm. What I love about Louie is Thompson’s decision to make him anthropomorphic, for he sits in restaurants, goes to the beach, and sits in parks right alongside humans. And while he thought he was content, once he saw families spending time together, he realized he desired that sense of connection too.
Max Explains Everything Puppy Expert by Stacy McAnulty Illustrated by Deborah Hocking (July 2020)
Max Explains Everything Puppy Expert is full of good advice for welcoming a new dog of any age into your family. Max has wanted to dog for a long time and after his mom sees an adoption event in the local paper, they finally say yes to Max. Choosing the right puppy is a tough decision but once Max does, he realizes it is even more difficult to choose the right house. Do you pick a name based on personality or behavior? Teaching his puppy the do’s and don’t of the house and commands is a lot of work hard work but Max realizes that puppies are also a lot of fun, cute, cuddle, and love which helps him choose the perfect name. What I love about the Max is he talks directly to the reader. McAnulty’s bouncy text reads like a conversation and along with Hocking’s charming full page illustrations, Max’s upbeat personality shines through. I also love that kids see that Max did the research before adopting a pet and his mom holds him accountable for taking care of his puppy. And of course, the fact that Max adopted a puppy warms my heart.
And 2 New Picture Books Releasing September 2020!
Madeline Finn and the Therapy Dog by Lisa Papp
I just adore author/illustrator Lisa Papp’s Madeline Finn so I was excited to hear about a third book in the series. At the beginning of the story, Star celebrates his first birthday and the next day, he begins taking tests to become a therapy dog. Star performs well listening to commands, ignoring other therapy dogs at the retirement home, and being gentle with the residents. During his second test, almost all of the residents are delighted to meet Star but Madeline notices one man, Mr. Humphrey doesn’t smile or say anything. Her mother encourages her to be patient because some people just need time. Big hearted Madeline wants to find a way to help Mr. Humphrey. She and Star practice a variety of activities in hopes of connecting with him. When Mr. Humphrey still doesn’t respond, Madeline, with some help from librarian Mrs. Dimple, recalls how reading aloud to therapy dog Bonnie helped her gain confidence. Madeline decides to read a story to Bonnie, Star, and Mr. Humphrey which not only helps her connect with Mr. Humphrey but also earns Star her therapy dog tag. I love Papp’s soft and tender illustrations and when I read any of the books in this series, I feel I am like wrapped in a warm hug. Thank you to Peachtree Publishing for sharing a F & G of Madeline Finn and The Therapy Dog which publishes on September 1, 2020.
This Old Dog by Martha Brockenbrough Illustrated by Gabriel Alborozo
Brockenbrough’s soulful, concise text coupled with Alborozo’s warm and charming illustrations will touch your heart. Old dog may have sore bones but his heart and tail still go thump thump. With the arrival of a new baby in the family, the pace of life in his home has sped up which is quite a change for a dog who likes to take things slow. As a result, his leisurely walks are now shorter. As he sleeps, he dreams of long walks with deep sniffs. When he wakes, he wishes he had a friend with whom he could share his walks. Once the baby takes her first steps, old dog’s wish comes true and the two remind us the importance of slowing down and enjoying the simple things in life. This heartwarming story has made me be less hurried on my own daily walks with Bella and to let her enjoy all the deep sniffs. Thank you to Levine Querido and Edelweiss for sharing an eARC of This Old Dog which publishes on September 1, 2020.
Thank you for visiting Beagles and Books’ #pb10for10! Do you have a favorite dog picture book? Please feel free to share in the comments below.