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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Hog Dog, written and illustrated by Dough Salati, won the 2023 Caldecott Medal. It's a spare, poetic, wonderfully illustrated story of a red longhaired dachshund that lives in a loud, busy city and is exhausted by the relentless summer heat. When the dog's human companion sees the dog has had enough, she picks the dog up and heads to the seashore, with its open space and cool breezes, and the dog is in its happy place. By the time they get home, the city has cooled off and all is peaceful. Besides having two charming main characters and great art, there are subtle messages about communicating how you feel and having the empathy to notice when someone's having a hard time and change things up to help them feel better.
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What's the Story?
As HOT DOG begins, a cute red dachshund is indoors, on the top floor of a building that looks like a New York brownstone, standing up against a window air conditioner looking at the city below. The White lady the dog lives with then decides to run some errands and takes the dog with her on a leash. But the errands are tedious and and the city is noisy, bustling, and hot. As the spare text says: "so hot/ can't sit ... crowds close in ... to close!/ too loud!/ too much!" The dog has had enough and sits down right in the middle of a crosswalk at a crowded intersection and won't budge, despite the honking cars. So the woman hails a taxi and they begin a long journey via multiple modes or transport out of the city to the beach, where there's plenty of open space and loads of cool breezes. But what will happen when they return home?
Is It Any Good?
This wonderful picture book perfectly portrays coming to the end of your rope on a hot day and getting relief from a change of scenery and temperature. Hot Dog shows how your mood can change if you get away, even for part of a day, have some fun, relax, and return home refreshed. Kids will relate to the frustration of being dragged around by an adult when they're not feeling great. And parents will relate to having to switch things up when a kid gets into a funk. Not everybody has a beach nearby or the fare for a roundtrip by taxi, train, ferry, and subway. But any change of pace can often work wonders.
The art in Hot Dog is a delight, whether showing the pooped pooch too hot to go on or the sweet friendship between human and canine. It's a simple story told with few words, but the art tells so much.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how the author-illustrator shows that the temperature is affecting the red dog in Hot Dog. How does the red fur look when the dog is dragging around the hot city, compared with how it looks when they're on the ferry amid the sea breezes? Try drawing a picture of a hot animal next to a cold one. How would they look different?
When the dog goes to sleep at the end of the day, it dreams of swimming with seals like the one encountered at the beach. Have you ever come home after a beach trip and felt the rhythm of he waves as you drifted off to sleep? What beachy dreams have you had?
What do you do to let adults know you're having a hard time? What works best to communicate to others how you're feeling? Is it using your words or something else?
What do you do to cool off when it's hot?
- Author: Doug Salati
- Illustrator: Doug Salati
- Genre: Picture Book
- Topics: Cats, Dogs, and Mice, Great Girl Role Models, Ocean Creatures, Science and Nature, Trains, Wild Animals
- Character Strengths: Communication, Empathy
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
- Publication date: May 24, 2022
- Number of pages: 40
- Available on: Hardback, Kindle
- Awards: Caldecott Medal and Honors, Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: January 30, 2023
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