Sunday, May 31, 2009

Curious George and the Puppies

Title: Curious George and the Puppies
Author: Margaret Rey
Illustrator: H.A. Rey
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Genre: Picture Book, Fiction
Ages: 4 through 8
Rating: 5 paws out of 5
Available at:, and more

Synopsis: Curious George and his companion, the Man in the Yellow Hat visit a pet shop to see the animals and find a mother dog with a large litter of puppies. George goes from wanting to pet the puppies to the usual chaos and puppies are everywhere.

Curious George’s childlike antics have been a part of kid’s lives since first published in 1941. Today, the many subjects involving George’s monkey business are varied and each holds the same charming innocence. Curious George and the Puppies is a very good story for emerging readers. The humor keeps it light and all is well in the end. This might be a keeper for your child to share with their children.

The Trainer Reads: Curious George and the Puppies is a great way to demonstrate to children the need for responsible actions around animals. This might be a good time to let children know never to open a gate or door to pet a dog. More than one child has caused a much greater disaster than the one Curious George created. This is a great children's dog book for sharing at bedtime and laughing over. Few baby boomers today have not shared a Curious George story with Mom at bedtime.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Title: Crash
Author: Mayra Calvani
Illustrator: Anna Pylypchuk
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing
Genre: Fiction – Picture Book
Ages: 2 to 6
Rating: 5 paws out of 5
Available at:,,, B& and

Synopsis: On his fifth birthday little Marcelo gets his wish, a Golden Retriever puppy of his own. He tries hard to be a good caretaker and learns to walk, groom and feed his new puppy, but there is a problem. Dad told him that a dog’s name should reflect his personality. So Marcelo spends several days getting to know his puppy until the right name comes along. Crash is a great book to read aloud to small children to introduce them to the responsibilities that come with owning a dog. The author’s language and sentence structure and pacing is perfect for the age group and appropriate for emerging readers as well.

The illustrator, Anna Pylypchuk was only 16 when she drew the pictures for Crash. It was a smart technique to make Marcelo’s eyes mirror the shape and size of the puppy’s. She is a talented artist who shows great heart in her work. Ms. Pylypchuk is bound to have a wonderful future.

The Trainer's View: Ms. Calvani beautifully captures how the bond between dog and human evolves. Here is a quote: “In bed at night, the puppy fell asleep with his head and paws on Marcelo’s stomach. Maybe the puppy liked the rise and fall of Marcelo’s chest. Or maybe he liked listening to the pounding of Marcelo’s heart. Maybe it reminded the puppy of his own mother’s heartbeat.” What a great description of the puppy knot, where the litter sleeps comforted, warm and happy intertwined among each other. Allowing children to have a voice in naming the new puppy is a great way to help bring them a feeling of ownership in a new pet. Read and discuss Crash with your children to prepare them for a new puppy in the home. Kudos for Ms. Calvani; she found the voice to teach children of this age just what they need.

I am pleased to report that Ms. Calvani is donating 50% of the proceeds from her royalties to Almost Heaven Golden Retriever Rescue and Sanctuary.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Complete Dog Book for Kids

Title: The Complete Dog Book for Kids
Author: Official Publication of the AKC
Photographer: Mary Bloom
Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons, Inc.
Genre: Juvenile Non-fiction
Ages: 9-12
Rating: 5 paws out of 5

Synopsis: This is a must have reference for kids or adults. Chapters include subjects such as: health and nutrition, canine sports, buying a dog, and more. It includes an extensive, well organized section on breeds that indicates area of origin, and characteristics. Age appropriate Fun Facts are listed throughout the book as well as an excellent Glossary and thorough Index. Of particular note is a size comparison logo for each breed showing how large in comparison to a child and adult the grown dog will be. The American Kennel Club is the largest registration organization of purebred dogs and supports an extensive junior program. The photography is beautifully done by Mary Bloom.

The Trainer's View: As an instructor of kids and k9 classes for over 12 years, The Complete Dog Book for Kids serves as an excellent reference book. I usually bring it to the first class and let the kids and their parents scan through it. The Fun Facts seem to be great favorites among the students. The language and depth of information is perfect not only for kids, but most of the adult dog fancy as well. It leans a bit heavily into conformation handling for this companion sport trainer but after all, that’s where the AKC’s bread is buttered. Whether or not you have a dog, if your child is a dog lover this is an excellent book for them.

Homeschoolers would find this book along with the great printable handouts on the AKC website a good basis for a curriculum focus on dogs. Feel free to contact me privately for more information on kids working with dogs.