Not Afraid of Dogs

Common Sense Media says

Sweet, poignant story of overcoming fear.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Compassion wins out over fear.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that there is nothing to be concerned about in this book, which won the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators' Golden Kite Award for Illustrations. Its theme of compassion overcoming fear is a sweet one.

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What's the story?

"I'm the bravest boy of all!" says Daniel. But he is afraid of dogs. "I'm not afraid of dogs," says Daniel. "I just don't like them." So he avoids them as best he can, even climbing up a lamppost to avoid a dog-walker.

But when his mother agrees to take care of his aunt's dog while she travels, avoiding it becomes even harder. He locks himself in his room, and refuses to come out even for dinner. "He's afraid," says his sister. "Am not!" yells Daniel from his room. But a midnight trip to the bathroom during a thunderstorm, only to find the terrified dog huddled behind the toilet, brings out a feeling in Daniel stronger than his fear: compassion.

Is it any good?


Susanna Pitzer shows the story in simple, clear text that lets readers draw their own conclusions. Before the text even starts, Larry Day draws readers in with his enchanting illustrations on the cover and endpapers, combining borderless pen-and-ink drawings with watercolor and gouache paintings. Pitzer's knack for family dialogue is matched by Day's vivid depiction of body language. Together, the two become more than the sum of their parts.

This happens most poignantly in the confrontation between boy and dog, when Daniel's compassion for the terrified dog wins out over his fear and, in a beautiful spread, he drops to his knees to gather the dog into his arms, both of their hearts pounding. This provides a surprisingly strong climax to an already lovely book sure to be cherished by both dog lovers and those who maybe have a bit of fear of their own.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the situation the author presents. Why do you think Daniel is afraid of dogs? How does he overcome that fear?

Book details

Author:Susanna Pitzer
Illustrator:Larry Day
Genre:Family Life
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Walker and Co.
Publication date:May 1, 2006
Number of pages:32
Read aloud:4
Read alone:6

This review of Not Afraid of Dogs was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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