I’ve been reviewing popular and contemporary picture books, so I decided to mix it up a little with an older book off my son’s shelf. Wise Dog, published in 1966, was gifted to Luke on his first birthday from my aunt along with a big, ol’ stack of books. Most of my books come secondhand, from garage sales, clearance box, giveaways -it’s all good! A book is priceless no matter how it falls into my hands.
The story begins with a funny, but familiar, little scenario when the kittens (very childlike and naive) are discussing and deciding what to be when they grow up. Awww! What a sweet start! The author brings in the threat early, right after introducing the kittens. Those cute little kitties get into a heap of trouble as they let Monkey manipulate them into staying in his circus. Now, you’d think the title character of a children’s book is the protagonist. But, Wise Dog, is . . .neutral if anything. He lost points, in my opinion, when he took advantage of the innocent, albeit dimwitted, kittens by bartering advice for their supper of meat. Ultimately, he does give them advice on how they can escape their peculiar predicament in prison.
The text does not rhyme, but it still has a pleasant pacing and rhythm. Early readers would also appreciate all the repeated phrases and dialogue.
Lastly, but not least! This book is grounded in animals, animals, animals. What child isn’t entertained by animals behaving like humans. Heck, adults still enjoy that, too.