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The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Hello Goodbye Dog by Maria Gianferrari, illustrated by Patrice Barton (The Year of the Three Sisters), is a sweet girl-and-her-dog story that introduces the idea of a therapy dog coming to class to help with reading. The main character is a girl of color with one brown-skinned parent and one white, and she uses a wheelchair. Her school is happily integrated, with kids and staff of all hues. The cheery school setting and high-spirited pup make this a very fun read.
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What's the story?
In HELLO GOODBYE DOG, Zara's dog, Moose, rides along with her to school, escapes the car, and tries to go to class with her. Zara's parents catch him and bring him home, but Moose zooms out and appears back at class, settling at Zara's feet while the teacher reads a story. When Moose is again captured, and tied up in the backyard, he chews through the rope, returning to school to cuddle with the kids who are reading in the library. Each time he's caught, Moose manages to escape and return. Finally, Zara gets the idea to enroll Moose in therapy dog school, and with his graduation certificate clutched proudly in his mouth, he's cleared to return to school, this time earning an official welcome as "Class Reading Dog."
Is it any good?
It's hard not to warm to this story of a girl and the dog who loves her, since tenderness radiates out from every page. Hello Goodbye Dog encourages us to consider the point of view of the pup, who views every encounter in emotionally simple terms, either happily as "hello," or as a distressing "goodbye." Author Maria Gianferrari adds a fun cumulative element, adding more and more people to catch Moose each time he returns to the school. Since Gianferrari relies on the various "hello" and "goodbye" encounters to structure the story -- "Hello was a pat on the head." "Goodbye was being tied up in the backyard." -- the story can sometimes be harder to follow than if the plot had been laid out more directly.
Much of the warmth is communicated by Patrice Barton's lovely art. Though no mention is made in the text, Barton pictures Zara as a multiracial girl who uses a wheelchair, and peoples the school with faces of all races. Her faces are so appealing, including the exuberant -- sometimes hangdog -- face of Moose. This is a lovely story to share, with the affection between the girl, the dog, and all in the school, touchingly real.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the dog's point of view in Hello Goodbye Dog. How does Moose see the world in terms of hello and goodbye? What's "hello" for him? What's "goodbye?"
Each time Moose comes to school, more people have to catch him. Can you count the number of people each time?
Have you had any experience with a therapy dog in your school or library? Would you like to read to a dog?
- Author: Maria Gianferrari
- Illustrator: Patrice Barton
- Genre: Picture Book
- Topics: Cats, Dogs, and Mice, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
- Publication date: July 25, 2017
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 4 - 8
- Number of pages: 40
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, Kindle
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