Stick Dog

Common Sense Media says

Warm-hearted dogs in silly Big Nate-style adventure.

Age(i)

2
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17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value
The narrator explains some words and expressions -- such as "dilemma" and "whispering low and hard" -- in asides.
 
Positive messages
Stick Dog and his friends work together to achieve their goal. And in the end, there's no need to be sneaky or threatening: The dogs find they can get exactly what they want just by being their charming selves.
 
Positive role models
The family targeted by the canine crew proves to be more generous than the dogs could have imagined: They shower the gang with affection (and burgers). The dogs are loyal to one another. Stick Dog is a solid leader, guiding the group away from harebrained schemes or causing anyone serious harm. He's able to dismiss his friends' silly ideas while still making them feel good.
 
Violence & scariness
Karen's friends plan a memorial for her when she briefly disappears, but all turns out well. One dog proposes they throw themselves off a cliff as part of a plan to get the burgers, but they don't do it. 
 
Language
A poodle is nicknamed Poo-Poo, but the author says it has nothing to do with bathroom humor and everything to do with being a poodle.
 

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Stick Dog is the first of a series about a group of canine friends that invites comparison to Big Nate and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: All feature line drawings on notebook-style paper, middle-grade humor, and comical adventures. In this story, the dogs scheme to steal hamburgers from a family at the park. Stick Dog, their leader, shoots down proposals to bite the humans' ankles or steal their car. The dogs' goal may not be admirable, but it makes sense: These dogs don't live with families and are fending for themselves. The silly humor is gentle and kind, making this a good choice for young children.  
 

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What's the story?

Stick Dog lives happily on his own in an empty pipe under a highway. One day the summer wind brings with it the intoxicating smell of hamburgers being grilled at a nearby park. Stick Dog leads his friends on a quest to get their paws on those burgers. Their adventure is interrupted by one thing after another: a pesky squirrel, a missing dog, a tasty appetizer, and the challenge of agreeing on a sound plan to swipe the burgers from an unsuspecting family.

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Is it any good?

QUALITY
 
The visual and narrative style of STICK DOG is similar to those of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Big Nate series, but without their occasional bite. The canine companions -- Stick Dog, Karen, Mutt, a poodle named Poo-Poo, and a spotted dog named Stripes -- are sweet and loyal friends. The story is a silly romp that leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy.
 
Ethan Long's stick-figure illustrations are charming adaptations of original artwork by author Tom Watson. The publisher recommends this for ages 8 and up, but this is definitely skewed to a younger set just beginning chapter books. The goofy style and simple writing are ideally suited to young readers -- older children may find it a little too simplistic and rambling. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how Stick Dog is similar in style to Big Nate and Diary of a Wimpy KidWhy do you think this storytelling style is so popular with kids?
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  • The dogs do a lot of brainstorming and work together in pursuit of burgers. Stick Dog is clearly in charge, but without being bossy. What makes him a good leader?
  • Learn how to draw Stick Dog at the series website, which also offers pictures to download, a quiz, and free downloadable picture books by the author.
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Book details

Author:Tom Watson
Illustrator:Ethan Long
Genre:Humor
Topics:Cats, dogs, and mice, Friendship, Misfits and underdogs
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:January 8, 2013
Number of pages:189
Publisher's recommended age(s):8 - 12
Read aloud:8 - 12
Read alone:8 - 12
Available on:Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle, Nook, Paperback

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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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Quality

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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; OK 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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