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 learn more about #pb10for10 and view lists from participating bloggers, please click here.
August 10th will always hold a special place in my heart because it is the day I launched Beagles and Books and shared my very first blog post. Today marks my fourth year of blogging AND fifth year participating in #pb10for10. Click below to view my previous lists. Can you notice my trend?
Almost every Monday for #IMWAYR, I feature one book with a canine main character and Bella graciously poses with each book. With a blog called Beagles and Books, I must continue my tradition of sharing my 10 favorite dog picture books published or publishing in 2021.
What I love about my list this year is that I have included a variety of genres including narrative nonfiction, informational and procedural text as well as fiction picture books. Bella and I hope you find a book that you would enjoy reading and sharing with kids!
Bringing Book Joy with Barktastic Picture Books!
First Friends by Kersten Hamilton Illustrated by Jaime Kim (February 2021)
How did dogs become our best friends? This picture book uses a nonfiction narrative format to explain to kids how wolves evolved into dogs. The story begins in the Stone Age. A young girl and wolf pup meet and play but once they both grow up, their friendship must end, for humans and wolves are rivals hunting the same prey. Many, many years pass and a young boy living in a hut meets a wolf pup. They interact more closely with the boy scratching the pup and sharing his food, but like the girl, the relationship does not last although the pair watch each other from afar. Over time, more children and wolf pups befriend each other. Their relationship is more intimate trading items, drinking from the same water hole, sleeping side by side, and finally, traveling together to a new home. On the last page spread, it is now present day and a beagle (yes, a beagle!) and a girl run toward one another full of excitement and love.
Hamilton’s concise, melodic text and Kim’s warm and radiant illustrations are in perfect harmony. Words were chosen and art was drawn thoughtfully to show how wolves evolved into dogs. At the end of the book, back matter includes more facts about their progression from competitor to companion as well as a bibliography. And pay special attention to the gorgeous endpapers, for the front depicts their rival relationship in hieroglyphics and the child-like illustrations of a girl and her dog grace the back endsheets.
Love Tails by Rob Sayegh, Jr. (March 2021)
In his debut as both author and illustrator, Sayegh’s Love Tails recognizes that while every dog’s tail has a tale to tell, tails have unique characteristics. Written in crisp, lyrical text, tails are described in their many forms-short, long, twisty, pointy, new, and tried and true. While tails may differ, all tails wiggle and wag which Savegh believes is communicating “I love you”. As a dog mom, I know that holds true for Bella because her wagging tail is a sign of happiness and joy.
In both words and illustrations, Love Tails is a celebration of a dog’s wagger. As soon as I opened the picture book, the endpapers showcase all different types of happy tails. On the first page spread, a beagle tail (yes, a beagle) is shown and when the page is turned, a beagle is on his back smiling as he smells the butt of a dachshund. Sayegh illustrated this moment of sheer delight perfectly. On each subsequent page spread, a new breed is introduced who in turn sniffs out another dog. A sweet touch is all the dogs have hearts as noses. On the back endpapers, the happy faces of the dogs are in the same places as their tails were on the front endpapers. Love Tails is a charming tribute to all pups who remind us to enjoy the simple things in life!
Hugo and the Impossible Thing by Renee Felice Smith and Chris Gabriel Illustrated by Sydney Hanson (March 2021)
At the edge of the forest, there is the Impossible Thing, a mess of boulders, thorns, rivers and cliffs. Hugo, a curious French bull terrier wonders why it is called impossible, for no animal has ever attempted to get through it and see what is on the other side. Apparently, Mr. Bear, Little Fox, Miss Otter, and Old Mr. Goat have deemed it impossible. While Hugo may not be as strong and clever as Mr. Bear and Little Fox and have the swimming and climbing skills as Miss Otter and Old Mr. Goat, Hugo decides he has to try. The next morning, when Hugo reaches the edge of the forest, he realizes that he does not have to tackle the Impossible Thing alone. All his forest friends are there ready to lend a hand to make the impossible possible.
Inspired by Smith’s and Gabriel’s dog, Hugo, who overcame a life threatening illness, Hugo and the Impossible Thing is a feel good story about courage, friendship, and teamwork. I love Hugo’s positive attitude. He doesn’t question each animal’s response when he/she says the Impossible Thing has always been impossible. In fact, he agrees that is what he has heard, but despite it, Hugo thinks he is going to try. Hugo’s determination propels the animals to change their fixed mindset to a growth mindset. Hanson’s soft illustrations show Hugo’s positivity from beginning to end and the other animals’ transformation from skeptic to believer.
I’m a Gluten-Sniffing Service Dog by Michal Babay Illustrated by Ela Smietanka (April 2021)
Chewie is training to be a service dog for a young girl named Alice who is living with celiac disease. His job is to detect gluten, for even a small amount of this protein can make Alice sick. When Chewie smells gluten, he alerts by running in a circle and sits down if it is gluten-free. Training is hard work for Chewie because it’s not easy to stay focused and ignore things like bugs, birds, and left over pizza on the ground. Knowing that Alice is depending on him is just the encouragement Chewie needs to buckle down and after a week of training working directly with Alice, Chewie graduates as an official service dog.
I have read stories about service dogs, but I’m a Gluten-Sniffing Service Dog is the first picture book I have read which shares how dogs can be trained to smell gluten. In the author’s note, Babay explains that the book is based on the true story of her daughter and her service dog. I love how Babay chose to tell the story from Chewie’s point of view because readers see his struggles and his triumphs and Smietanka’s playful illustrations show his love for his job and Alice.
Ciao Sandro! by Steven Varni Illustrated by Luciano Lozano (June 2021)
Since he was a puppy, Sandro and gondolier Nicola do everything together, but today Sandro is venturing out in Venice solo on a very special errand. Because of his acute sense of smell and hearing, Sandro knows the city better than most Venetians which helps him locate friends Alvise and Francesca to deliver a message. Then he travels to the vaporetto stop, walks on the boat, and gets off at Murano to see Giorgio, the glassblower. With this last errand complete, Sandro returns to Venice and reunites with Nicola. After the last gondola ride for the day, Nicola and Sandro walk to meet their friends. The last page spread reveals Sandro’s secret mission-to remind their friends to attend Nicola”s birthday celebration.
My husband and I were married in Sardinia, Italy. Venice was our first stop on our honeymoon so the city will always hold a special place in my heart. I loved being able to see Venice from Sandro’s perspective, but what especially touched me was the sweet relationship of a dog and his gondolier. And it’s pretty adorable to see a dog wearing a striped shirt with a red bandana around his neck. An added bonus is a glossary pronouncing and defining Italian words immediately follows the story.
Woof! The Truth About Dogs by Annette Whipple (June 2021)
Woof provides answers to simple yet valuable questions that any dog owner (or lover) should know. While I had a general idea of the answer, Whipple sets the record straight with the key facts. Here are a few of the questions explored.
- Do dogs have feelings?
- Why do dogs smell butts?
- How do dogs help people?
- Are dogs just tame wolves?
I love the format of this nonfiction picture book. for it is a great mentor text to teach children about text features. A question is posed in a large and appealing font. Each answer is written in kid friendly language so the facts are easy to understand. Clear, crisp photographs match the question showing the dog engaged in the activity; a sidebar also appears on every page spread and includes Oliver’s illustrations and the dog’s humorous point of view on the topic. Throughout the entire book, different breeds, each identified with a label, are highlighted in the photographs to show kids the wide range of dogs. Of course, I was happy to see both the beagle and basset hound breed featured!
What I love most about Woof is Whipple strongly advocates for dogs in shelters, a cause close to my heart. The last question, How Can I Help?, explains how kids can volunteer at or raise money for a local shelter. And if your family is able-welcome a dog into your family by adopting. Other helpful information are steps on how to properly meet a dog, directions for making a dog tug toy, a glossary, and a list of websites. After reading Woof, kids (and adults) will know the why behind the wagging tail, sniffing snout, and happy bark. And if they didn’t like dogs already, Woof might indeed change their mind! Whipple shares a lot of information that may help children calm their fears about canines.
Hudson and Tallulah Take Sides by Anna Kang Illustrated by Christopher Weyant (May 2021)
Hudson and Tallulah Take Sides is a story of how even opposites can find some happy medium and become friends. While Tallulah is prim and proper and Hudson is free spirited and messy, they both can’t refrain from enjoying the puddle. This revelation is groundbreaking, for perhaps, they are not as different as they once believed. Kang’s peppy dialogue is succinct which allows Weyant’s lively and humorous illustrations to not only move the plot along but also show the progression of Hudson’s and Tallulah’s relationship.
When I read this story to kindergarten students for #classroombookaday, I asked them to tell me what did the author and illustrator want us to learn. Here are some of their thoughts.
- “The dog and the cat both like to jump in puddles so that’s why they became friends.”
- “You don’t have to like the same things to be friends.”
- “It’s better to be friends than enemies.”
- “Dogs and cats are different but can still be friends.”
Pretty smart kids. Thankful for picture books like Hudson and Tallulah Take Sides which support teaching theme with our youngest learners.
Best Buddies by Lynn Plourde Illustrated by Arthur Lin (August 2021)
On the day he came home from the hospital, a boy with Down syndrome and a basset hound’s relationship began. No surprise that their bond became stronger once the boy shared his snacks with the hound. Soon they are inseparable enjoying car rides, playing in the yard, and snuggling at bedtime solidifying their status as best buddies. But on the first day of school, the teary eyed boy got on a bus while the sad hound watched from the door. Luckily, the duo was reunited at the end of the school day, but both were still full of worry. What about tomorrow? How will the boy and hound cope?
Best Buddies is a touching story celebrating the friendship between a child and his dog. What I love most is the boy cleverly finds a way for him and his pup to stay close to one another when apart. With the start of school approaching, Best Buddies is a perfect real aloud to support children nervous about leaving a loved one.
And 2 New Picture Books Releasing Fall 2021!
Cat and Dog: A Tale of Opposites by Tullio Corda (September 2021)
A cat is awake while a dog is asleep. The cat bravely pounces on the dog who is afraid. The slow dog chases after the fast cat. From above, the cat pushes a flower pot which falls on the dog below. The dog is upset but the cat is unconcerned. With only one word on each page and a single illustration, Cat and Dog is the perfect book to introduce or reinforce antonyms to kids. In addition to teaching this concept, the picture book has a plot (it’s a tale after all!) allowing children the opportunity to make and then confirm predictions as well as identify beginning, middle, and end. Will the cat and dog be enemies or friends?
I am a big fan of case covers or undies that are different from the dust jacket. I always peek hoping to see something fun and was tickled that the theme was included. Thank you Red Comet Press and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sharing a copy to read and review. To download activity sheets that supplement the book, click here.
How to Make a Book (About My Dog) by Chris Barton Illustrated by Sarah Horne (October 2021)
Barton’s most frequently asked questions from kids, “How do you make your books? and “Are you ever going to write a book about your dog?” inspired him to write a nonfiction picture book about his beloved rescue dog Ernie.
Barton thoroughly and humorously explains the process of writing a book from concept to publication. Before sharing each step in order, he tells readers that books take a team to be created and during his explanation, Barton makes a point to identify all the different jobs they perform. Research is very important even when writing a book about his own dog. Barton shares that he asks family members, Ernie’s foster, and even the shelter about Ernie so he had the most accurate facts about him. I love how he uses the example that while he initially thought Ernie was part dachshund and part Jack Russell, a DNA test revealed a few other breeds.
To support young writers, Barton discusses how he begins formulating his ideas into writing. He discusses the roles of his agent, editor, the art director, and illustrator. LOTS of questions are asked by them and other team members which strengthen the text, illustrations, format, and presentation. Once the book is printed and delivered to bookstores and libraries, How to Make a Book (About My Dog) meets the final member of the team-the reader!
How to Make a Book (About My Dog) is a perfect mentor text for a nonfiction writing unit. I love that Barton speaks directly to the reader in a conversational tone and includes Ernie anecdotes throughout the book. Horne’s colorful and energetic comic illustrations perfectly complement the text. Thank you to Millbrook Press/Lerner Publishing and NetGalley for providing an eARC to read and review.
Bella and I 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.