Pampered Pooches – Four Inspiring Dog Picture Books

In honour of the new Duchess of Sussex’s affection for all things canine, today we snuggle up with four memorable picture books featuring the pooches we love to pamper. These stories focus on dogs as companions and the glorious relationships we share with them.

Dogasaurus by Lucinda Gifford

Author illustrator Lucinda Gifford’s combination of dogs and dinosaurs was never going to fail – both infatuate kids. Dogasaurus is a high giggle scoring story about Molly who lives ‘on a small, peaceful farm’. Life trickles along merrily until the day Molly ventures into the neighbouring Mysterious Ancient Forest and being a typical adventure inspired child, brings home something she ought not to have. When her newfound treasure hatches into Rex, a cute baby dino, she is delighted to have a pet of her own and dotes on him from morning to night. Only trouble is, Rex soon outgrows the farm and develops a mysterious yearning for the Ancient Forest.

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Doodles and Drafts – Robyn Osborne on her canine obession

Today we invite Robyn Osborne to the draft table. Robyn has a penchant for pooches and writing for kids. Fortunately when she combines the two, magic happens.

Her latest picture book release, My Dog Socks is a winning combination of pure doggy delight. Robyn’s lyrical prose works in perfect harmony with  Sadami Konchi’s animated illustrations. Together they gambol and scarper through the book filling every page with barely suppressed  energy and exuberant colour. Pleasing alliteration, satisfying rhythm and an enticing parallel visual narrative invite readers into Sock’s secret world, where he is anything and everything in the eyes (and imagination) of his young owner.  Konchi’s representation of Socks  suggests an Australian Shepard type breed, however Sock’s irrepressible benevolent doggy nature could be any little person’s best four-legged friend. My Dog Socks is a winsome celebration of young people, dogs, the ineffable attachments they make and the incredible joie de vivre they both possess.

Grab yourself a copy, soon – here (paperback available next week). Now grab a cuppa and settle back with Robyn.

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Review – The Pocket Dogs and the Lost Kitten

The Pocket Dogs and the Lost Kitten, Margaret Wild (author), Stephen Michael King (illus.), Scholastic Australia, 2016.

Let’s face it. We’ve all experienced that yearning to find and rescue a defenceless animal, love it, spoil it, and raise it to be one of your own. Right? Well, Biff and Buff do in this story, but what happens when they realise they might have to learn to share?

imageMr Pockets and his adorable pocket dogs have returned for yet another delightful tale of friendship and love. Previously seen in The Pocket Dogs and The Pocket Dogs go on Holiday, the eccentric and warm Mr Pockets has a valuable lesson for his two loyal pooches. Brilliantly combining their undeniable talents once more, Margaret Wild and Stephen Michael King capture elements of jealousy, compassion, trust, companionship, playfulness and tenderness all within its glorious 32 pages.

Biff and Buff are very comfortable with their current living (and travelling) situation with their owner, Mr Pockets and his snuggly, big coat. But one stormy night they hear a scritch-scratch at the door, and their life as they know it is about to change. A little, lost kitten is generously welcomed and she immediately fits right in. Mr Pockets takes a particular fancy to the adorable snow white ball of fluff and bathes her in love and affection. But the pocket dogs realise how much time their owner is spending with the kitty and suddenly feel dejected and second-rate. A wave of fear and jealousy sets in and causes them to endure worrying dreams and the inability to share their belongings as they once did. Some reassurance and encouragement from Mr Pockets is the comfort they need to reclaim their sense of belonging. But when Biff and Buff are ready to accept the kitten into the family, is it too late?

imageI love how Stephen Michael King utilises space, colour and loose lines to depict perspective, action and emotion. His characteristically eye-catching and whimsical pen and brush techniques are the perfect companion to the energetic and heart-melting moments of Wild‘s words. Her cleverly constructed plot is simple, but her expert use of narrative is vivid and sensuous, and the dialogue is engaging and encouraging. Both story and pictures maintain a softness and contentment of a kind family that touch us on many deep levels.

‘The Pocket Dogs and the Lost Kitten’ is one to warm the heart and soul. Recommended for children from age three, and particularly those making new adjustments in their lives.

#ByAustralianBuyAustralian

Review – How Long is a Piece of String? by Madeleine Meyer

Where do dogs wander to in the dark of night? How tall is a ladder to an exotic land? Will unusual creatures help guide you to your destination? How long is a piece of string? Don’t know the answers? Well, it’s all up to your imagination!  

how-long-is-a-piece-of-stringIn similarity to those that leave the stories up to the viewer’s interpretation, ‘How Long is a Piece of String?’ by Madeleine Meyer is another wordless book that guides the adventure through its’ pictures.

81+v1JCtv5LOf late, included in the list is ‘The Umbrella’ by Ingrid and Dieter Schubert; boasting stunning artwork of landscapes and imagery that take you on a visual adventure with a dog and an umbrella.
Book Island, March 2015.

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51CPxCt64eL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_The first of Aaron Becker‘s in his wordless picture book series was ‘Journey’; a beautifully imaginative story about a girl finding herself almost lost in translation with only but a red crayon to proceed, as she daringly rescues a purple bird.
Candlewick, August 2013.

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516h8CV6uYL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_And second in the trilogy is Aaron Becker’s ‘Quest’; which sees the return of the original characters, including the purple bird. The children draw their way through this captivating, yet perilous adventure in their quest to glory.
Candlewick, July 2014.  

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Author and illustrator, Madeleine Meyer, is a sculptural and visual artist; who is now turning her passion for illustrating into books. With her quirky yet enchanting fine pen and ink hatching techniques, and minimal pops of colour on white backgrounds, there is plenty to peruse and get hypnotised with in ‘How Long is a Piece of String?’

How long is a piece of string imageA young boy awakes to the sound of his dog barking outside his window, and upon turning the page, we discover an enormous ball of string awaiting to be unraveled. Ready for the journey ahead, the boy sets off in search of his dog, clenching tightly to the red string that is his lifeline back to safety. He endures long, treacherous travels through mysterious cities, trudges over monumental expanses, and encounters curious and extraordinary beings, until at last he is reunited with his four-legged friend. A large flying fish charters the boy and his dog back across this unparalleled universe to home, and then it is time for bed.

‘How Long is a Piece of String?’ is a wondrous and fantastical depiction of what true companionship and dedication means. It literally outlines a whimsical world with the added ability to tug on your heart-strings, no matter how long. A ‘different’ book experience suitable for primary school aged children.  
Windy Hollow Books, 2014.