By Gail Page
Confession: I love dogs. When I gazed at the title of this book, I (correctly) assumed this had to be a tongue-in-cheek reading. All dogs are good. (Some owners...not so much.)
When I bought the book, I still had Lincoln, my behaviorally challenged but nonetheless wonderful pooch. Independent minded, he did not respond to training. He knew the treats would come eventually, whether he shook a paw (for no discernible purpose) or not. I was the one who had to adapt. He would just be a dog. Let Fido or Rex be the circus animal. I tried reading the book to Lincoln, but he lost interest and resumed barking enthusiastically at the bushes in the back yard.
I have read How to Be a Good Dog many times to young audiences and we always bond in laughter over Bobo, the goofy white dog whose exuberance makes his good intentions lead to disastrous results. His antics cause him to be banished to the doghouse by Mrs. Birdhead, his human companion. (“Owner” seems so improper; dogs are family members, not property.)
Cat, initially relieved to be rid of the canine, finds that life in the house just isn’t the same without Bobo. Thus, Cat teaches Bobo how to be good. Through Gail Page’s clever acrylic illustrations, we see how Cat teaches Bobo standard dog commands; their interpretations of heel and roll over will get an audience giggling. It’s all silly fun.
When you read a simple picture book many times, you can still pick up new details. I recall a student being perplexed by Mrs. Birdhead who, naturally, has a bird on her head. However, this is the first time I followed the bird from page to page to see the bird’s actions and reactions. More silliness. Normally, I’m too entertained by Bobo to bother with the other characters.
Before, during and after reading How to Be a Good Dog, children will share all sorts of personal stories about all sorts of pets. As they make connections about their dogs, frogs and pet rocks, you’ll connect more with the children. Be a Good Reader and track down Good Dog.