Dog Gone

Book review by
Marigny Dupuy, Common Sense Media
Dog Gone Book Poster Image
A gentle way to talk about separation worries.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Offers a gentle way to talk about separation worries with a young child.

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that separation is a recurring issue in childhood. With the emotional remove of a canine hero and a whimsical adventure that ends in safety, this sweet story offers a gentle way to talk about separation worries with a young child.

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What's the story?

Otis, the dog narrator, has been left by his owners for a stay at the Misty Meadow dog hotel. The place is nice and the dogs are friendly, but it is not home, and that is the only place Otis wants to be. He remembers a story that his owner Lucy told him about a cat and two dogs who make it back home over wild, strange country. Otis decides to do the same.

On his adventure he bolts over thorny hedges (hay stacks), fords dangerous rivers (a creek), and escapes fearsome beasts (a group of sheep munching disinterestedly on a hillside). Deciding that his escape has been ill advised, he returns willingly to the friendly safety of Misty Meadow where he stays happily until his owners return.

Is it any good?

Otis is an endearing character, and his situation will resonate with children. For a child a similar situation might be staying at Grandmother's house, and running away may be hiding at the back of the yard or venturing to the end of the block, but the feelings involved are much the same. Like a loved child, Otis has the strength of character that comes from feeling that despite some difficulties, the world is ultimately a good place.

Third in a series by British author/illustrator Amanda Harvey, the story takes place in the pastoral setting of the lush English countryside, painted in soft pastel watercolors. There's lots of activity in the illustrations and the animals' faces are expressive, but it is Otis' ears that make the strongest statement. They most often stand straight out from his head, giving him a look of comical intensity. He appears friendly yet alert, gullible but determined.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about being separated from loved ones. How far can we go from familiar faces and still be safe? Does the unknown turn out to be as we imagined?

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