Bella and I are honored to be part of the blog tour for Being a Dog: A Tail of Mindfulness written by Maria Gianferrari and illustrated by Pete Oswald. This playful picture book celebrated its book birthday this week on April 5, 2022. Thanks to author Maria Gianferrari and Harper Collins for sharing a F & G in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Dogs have countless wonderful qualities including the ability to live in the present moment. Being a Dog introduces children to mindfulness with an adorable dog as their guide. On the very first page, Gianferrari engages in word play with the following text:
Being like a dog
Oswald’s cheerful pup with its wagging tail and a ball in its mouth helps children visualize what being in the moment means.
As the sun rises, the dog greets its young person, and the two stretch to begin their day. This page spread is touching because Oswald shows the pair’s close relationship with the child’s artwork of the dog adorning the bedroom.
The dog and child spend time together outside. As the pup engages in lively behaviors such as sniffing and playing, Gianferrari invites readers to join in. Feelings are also explored with canine sounds to match like barking when worried and yowling if sad. Children are encouraged to mirror the cute dog’s actions as a means to remain mindful of their present thoughts and emotions.
Gianferrari’s love and respect for dogs shines through in the text. She admires their ability to enjoy the present and be in touch with their feelings. I especially loved this page spread inviting readers to sleep like a dog. My favorite is ” Circle before you sleep,” for Bella religiously makes a loop before settling. Oswald’s rendition of the dog’s actions is perfect. The crossed paws when dreaming are endearing.
If you are looking for a picture book to support social emotional learning, I highly recommend Being a Dog. Children not only get to learn mindful strategies, but also are exposed to vivid verbs (munch, romp, ruffle, wade, whirl) which enhances their oral and written vocabulary. The back matter includes directions on how to take a mindful nature walk with a canine friend in all four seasons as well as instructions on a mindful breathing exercise.
With rhythmic, concise text, and warm, expressive artwork, Being a Dog is a tale that gives children the “oppawtunity” to learn how to mindful of their feelings in order to reach their full “pet-tential.”
About the Author:
Maria Gianferrari is a community scientist, self-taught naturalist, and bird nerd who holds an M.A. in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in English. She is the author of narrative nonfiction picture books which celebrate urban ecosystems, the natural world and our wild neighbors. She also writes engaging expository nonfiction. And as a lover of dogs, Maria’s fiction picture books star dogs as main characters and explore the human-canine bond. She writes from her light-filled, book-lined study in Massachusetts with rescue dog, Maple at her side.
Enter Beagles & Books’ Giveaway!
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