Shoe Dog

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
Shoe Dog Book Poster Image
Adorable shelter dog learns house rules in charming story.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Offers a little lesson in dog training. Also shows kids you can get a dog from a shelter, not just from a pet store.  

Positive Messages

Conveys a positive message about adopting a shelter dog and being kind but firm in training a dog out of a bad habit.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The lady who adopts Shoe Dog is kind, caring, and patient, ready to reward the pooch with love and hugs when he learns how to behave properly.

Violence & Scariness

Shoe Dog chews up some shoes and knocks over some furniture in pursuit of new shoes to chew. 

Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Shoe Dog is a cute picture book by Judy Moody author Megan McDonald about an adopted shelter dog learning not to chew up shoes. Illustrator Katherine Tillotson conveys oodles of personality and emotion in the mood-swinging pup as he goes from "BAD DOG!" to "GOOD DOG!" -- even though he's drawn as a swift crayon and charcoal scribble. There's lots of action and movement in this charming, relatable tale that's great for a read-aloud.

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What's the story?

A white-haired older lady adopts an adorable shelter dog, and, once he's home, he starts chewing through her shoes -- "five high heels, four flip-flops, three sneakers, two boots, one wing tip." She yells, "BAD DOG!" and banishes him to the bottom of the big bed. But the next day, when a box of new shoes arrives, he chews through those, too. "BAD DOG!" she yells again, and she makes him sleep in a corner. The next day he does the same thing and has to sleep downstairs on a cold floor by the mop. Finally he discovers a box containing a cute cat slipper and refrains from chewing it -- giving it a big "doggie slobber kiss" instead. "GOOD DOG!" yells the lady, and he's back in her good graces -- and "on the Big Bed in the Land of Upstairs" -- curled up to sleep with his "new-found friend," Shoe Cat.

Is it any good?

SHOE DOG is a cute story about an irrepressible pup who has a lot of trouble following the rules and resisting the urge to chew up shoes. Illustrator Katherine Tillotson captures so much personality and emotion in her main character, even though he's drawn as a kind of crayon and charcoal scribble on digitally collaged spreads. Changes in lighting deftly contrast the bright, happy Land of Upstairs with the sad, blue-gray nighttime of the cold floor downstairs where the dog is banished "with only a mop for a friend." 

Art and text work together perfectly as the surprisingly action-packed story moves along and the dog dashes from stairs to bed to "Comfy Chair" and closet, sure that he smells some tasty new shoe to devour, and finally leaping into the arms of his happy owner. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about dogs. Why do they love to chew things up? Why would a dog choose a person's shoe instead of a chew toy? 

  • Why do kids love stories about animals? Is a dog story fun even if you don't have a dog?  

  • Have you ever tried to train your dog, either to stop a bad habit or to do a trick? Give it a try and see if you can. 

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