These days it seems dogs are everywhere. We have dog detectives (Spencer Quinn’s delightful Chet and Bernie mystery series for adults), lost dogs (Chris Raschka’s Caldecott-winning A Ball for Daisy) and even, apparently, dogs with blogs. So, do kids (and adults) need another dog book? The answer, as any dog lover will tell you, is a resounding yes, especially when the book is created by the talented David Ezra Stein, who won a Caldecott Honor for Interrupting Chicken.
The hero of I’m My Own Dog is a cocky, independent and supremely confident creature (not unlike many 5-year-olds, come to think of it), who is totally the boss of his own life. “If someone told me, ‘Sit!’ I wouldn’t do it. Even if they said, ‘I’ll give you a bone.’”
One day, though, our intrepid hero finds an itchy spot on his back he simply cannot reach on his own. Fortunately he finds a fellow at the park willing to scratch it for him. When “the little guy” follows him home, the dog takes pity on him. He gets a leash to lead his new friend around, and takes him to the park to show him things like squirrels and how to throw a stick. (Dog lovers, is this starting to sound familiar?)
Dogs, notes Stein, “make an excellent metaphor for a story about independence and love.” And as I’m My Own Dog reminds us delightfully once again, dogs also make excellent best friends.
Deborah Hopkinson lives near Portland, Oregon. Her most recent book for young readers is The Great Trouble.