A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this gentle book puts a boastful show-off in his place -- humbled, but embraced by loving, understanding friends. Dog learns a lesson, but his character remains true.
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What's the story?
Dog loves his friends. They’re great, he says, but he’s the best! He wins contest after contest -- digging holes better than Goose, for example, and being bigger than Ladybug. His boasts leave his friends dejected, until Mole declares that, actually, he can dig better holes than Dog. Donkey realizes he’s bigger than Dog. And so his friends find ways each one is the best, and now it’s Dog’s turn to feel sad: “I’m just a silly show-off. … And I’m mean to my friends.” Dog apologizes to his friends, who assure him he’s the best at being their best friend -- and having fluffy ears. Which leaves Dog thinking he might be the best after all!
Is it any good?
Lucy Cousins’ pitch-perfect book defuses the "who's the best" conflict with humor and, most importantly, a demonstration of unconditional love. Show-offs and also-rans alike will find comfort in the gentle message: Even if you’re not the best at everything, you’re still loved and appreciated. Cousins deftly avoids wallowing in saccharine in favor of realistic personalities: Feelings are hurt both ways, and Dog doesn't undergo a complete personality change. This certainly won't be the last time his friends will need to help him keep his ego in check.
Cousins takes the vibrant look of her popular Maisy series and infuses it with freewheeling glee and delightful touches.
Lucy Cousins’ exuberant illustrations are a riot of color, with huge washes of color enlivening the pages.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about competitive spirit, pride, and bragging. When does pride go too far? How could Dog talk about how proud he is without upsetting his friends?
Dog thinks he’s the best in every way, but discovers his friends have talents he didn’t consider. Look at some of the animals in your home, your yard, or at the park and talk about what they do well. Then talk about the members of your family and find one thing each person is very good at.
Dog keeps finding ways to declare, “I win!” His friends don’t have fun and feel badly. How could he enjoy competition without anyone getting their feelings hurt?
Talk about the golden rule and how it applies here.