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Review of Woof: A Love Story by Sarah Weeks, illustrated by Holly Berry

Woof: A Love Story
A dog is a dog
and a cat is a cat
And most of the time
it’s as simple as that. . . .
Or is it?

What’s a dog to do when he falls in love with the cat next door? Bark? Chase his tail? Dig up a “brass bone” and hope that the universal language of music will help him to express his feelings?

This humorous and heartfelt story is about the power of love and the power of music, told through the eyes of a lovelorn dog and the cat he adores. (From Goodreads.com.)

             

Release date: November 24th, 2009
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 32
Source: Library book

What a lovely little story! I tried to write this review in rhyme to pay homage to the book, but my skill is not as great as Sarah Weeks’, so I had to give it up. Woof: A Love Story is the story of a dog who usually does dog things, until one day, he smells a cat and falls in love. The problem is, every time he tries to tell her nice things, all she hears is dog sounds! They can’t understand each other, so the cat is afraid of him. But then…the dog discovers music, and finally the cat understands how he feels.

There are so many wonderful qualities to this book: an engaging story, teaching that music conveys feelings, it’s fun to hear and fun to read, and it’s a great little book to talk about poetic elements with a stronger reader (1st to 4th grades), as well. The story makes use of rhyme, metaphor, simile, onomatopoeia, alliteration, and more. I sense great instructional moments here.

As for the opinion of a real-life child: Little S adored this story. I sense we will be keeping it the full two weeks from the library, and probably even buying it at the store. Though I’m personally not a huge fan of the illustration style, which features bold colors and a cut & paste cardstock look, Little S kept delightedly pointing to the pages, finding hidden items and linking the story words to the pictures. She seemed to love the illustrations, and thinking about it further, I think that this book will still be a hit with boys despite the “sappy” story because of the un-girly illustrations. And of course she had great fun with the story itself, especially because cats and dogs are very familiar animals to her.

Even we adults enjoyed the story. Daddy Dino read it to the Littles for bedtime, and on our way down the stairs talking, we had to laugh at each other for unconsciously adopting the rhythm of the book. “I keep expecting you to speak in rhyme!” I admitted to him. As an experienced picture book reader, I know that rhyming text doesn’t always work well, Dr. Seuss aside. Woof: A Love Story pulls it off beautifully. The rhyming adds a lot to the experience of the book, especially because it goes along with the idea that music can communicate emotion.

In short, this delightful and quirky story about a dog who falls in love with a cat is a great addition to any shelf.

Our rating?

Two out of Five Stars

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Review of How Do Dinosaurs Say I’M MAD? by Jane Yolen & Mark Teague

How Do Dinosaurs Say I'M MAD?
Everybody gets angry sometimes. Kids do. So do parents. Sometimes we get angry when we’re scared, or want something we can’t have, or are feeling mean or feeling sick. Anger can be very frightening, and it can make people sad. But there are lots of ways to learn how to control anger, just as the dinosaurs do in this book. Some of them count to ten, some of them have a time out, and some of them take deep breaths. Then, when the dinosaurs are calm again, they clean up any mess they’ve made, they say, “I’m sorry,” and they give big hugs. Just as you do.
(From inside description.)

             
Release date: September 2014
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Pages: 40
Source: Library’s summer reading program prize

As you may have guessed, we have a soft spot for dinosaurs around here. Little S couldn’t resist picking this book as her prize for being part of the library’s summer reading program, not with that awesome dinosaur on the cover. I, however, was a little hesitant after flipping through it because it had an awful lot of pages depicting bratty behavior. I didn’t want Little S to get any ideas! She has a very sweet nature and hardly ever gets mad, and we’d like to keep it that way. So while she was engaged at the arts & crafts table making a superhero mask (how cool is our library’s summer reading program?), I sat down and read How Do Dinosaurs Say I’M MAD? with Little E to make sure this was the book we wanted to take home.

And I have to say, I loved How Do Dinosaurs Say I’M MAD?. Little E wasn’t too thrilled, but that’s because I kept dancing the big beautiful fragile pages out of reach of her grabby little hands. We have the paperback edition, and it’s a 12-inch-tall book, with absolutely gorgeous illustrations of all sorts of dinosaurs in all stages of temper tantrums. Lovely for older kids, not great for babies or toddlers, who need to be able to touch and grab books to experience them.

How Do Dinosaurs Say I’M MAD? is actually a book about how kids say they’re mad. Having huge, friendly dinosaurs enact all the crazy inappropriate things kids do during temper tantrums makes it easy for kids to identify, “Oh no! You shouldn’t do that!” Our Little S immediately pointed out how silly the dinosaurs looked when they were mad, too. When we reached the point where the book explains how dinosaurs actually handle their anger, she was also excited because the dinosaurs did what we do: time out, take deep breaths, and make up.

So even though I was initially worried about the content, How Do Dinosaurs Say I’M MAD? is clearly meant to teach kids the proper way to handle anger, disappointment, and other difficult feelings. Aside from being delightfully funny and beautifully illustrated, this book prompted a really useful discussion between Little S and me about anger: How does Little S say she is mad? Which dinosaur is she most like? Is this really an appropriate way to show her feelings, or does she look just as silly as some of these dinosaurs? What would be a better way to handle moments when we are angry?

The only thing I do wish the book included was talking over the reasons why you are mad with the person who made you mad, which I think is a crucial step in letting go of anger. But maybe this way the book agrees with more parenting styles.

Our rating? 5 out of 5 Stars