5 Beloved Dogs in Children’s Books

April 30, 2014

By Laurie Darroch

There are many children’s books that include or feature dogs as key elements of the stories. These five endearing books are successful stories for children that also appeal to adults.

The Poky Little Puppy

A Little Golden Book classic, The Poky Little Puppy  written by Janette Sebring Lowrey and illustrated by Gustaf Tenggren, was originally published in 1942. The endearing story is about five puppies who sneak under the garden fence and go exploring. One curious little pup has a mind of his own. He pokes along exploring at his own pace discovering all kinds of interesting things out in the world beyond the fence.

Written for young children, the simple classic tale has sold almost 15 million copies, which makes it one of the most popular children’s stories ever published.

Golden books began their series of stories back in the 1940s with 12 books, one of which was The Poky Little Puppy.

Where’s Spot

Written by Eric Hill, Where’s Spot  is another dog book written for very young children.  The text is good for beginning readers and easy for little ones to respond to when someone is reading to them. The interactive pictures with opening doors and entrances to hiding places encourage children to get involved in the fun story about searching for little Spot who is hiding. It is a book young children enjoy looking at by themselves as well.

Published in 1980, Where’s Spot  is the first book in a series of Spot books, which includes titles such as Spot Loves His Mommy, and Good Night, Spot. Where’s Spot has become a treasured book in many home libraries; it’s a perfect story and series to encourage little ones to love reading.

Eric Hill began creating and telling the stories to his own son, Christopher. The interactive lift-the-flap design idea for the book came from an advertisement flyer Hill had created.

Good Dog, Carl

Alexandra Day wrote and illustrated the popular book Good Dog, Carl  in 1985. The book is short on text and relies on the illustrations, the readers, and individual interpretation to convey the story about a family Rottweiler who looks after and protects a human infant. The two companions go on an adventure around the house, exploring and having fun while Mommy is away.

The idea for Carl was inspired by antique cartoon picture sheets Alexandra Day found in Switzerland, featuring a poodle playing with a baby. The beloved and gentle family Rottweiler, Toby, became the model for this first book in the Carl series, which also includes the titles Carl’s Christmas and Carl’s Snowy Afternoon. The human model for the baby in Good Dog, Carl  was Day’s granddaughter Madeline.

Alexandra Day is the pseudonym used by Sandra Louise Woodward Darling. Her first illustrated book was Jimmy Kennedy’s The Teddy Bears’ Picnic  in 1983, which was based on the classic 1907 song by John Bratton.

Happiness is a Warm Puppy

Although not a story book, Happiness is a Warm Puppy  appeals to Charles M. Schulz fans of all ages with its one line philosophical accompaniments to endearing illustrations of Snoopy and Peanuts characters. Originally published in 1962, the book still has appeal in its simplicity of life philosophy.

Published by Determined Productions, the charming little book was the first published by Schulz. Happiness is a Warm Puppy  was on the New York Times Best Seller list for an amazing 45 weeks, proving that even gentle simplicity and heartfelt wisdom has its place in the world of books.

Clifford the Big Red Dog

Written and illustrated by Norman Bridwell, Clifford the Big Red Dog  introduces readers to a small runt of a puppy who quickly grows into an oversized, affable, huge red dog. Accompanied by his human companion, Emily Elizabeth (named for Bridwell’s daughter), who chose the small puppy as her birthday present, the puppy grows to gargantuan proportions. This sets the tone for all the Clifford stories; his size is a central element of the antics and adventures of a little girl, her devoted dog and all their friends.

First published in 1963, Clifford the Big Red Dog helped Scholastic Books become a well-known publishing firm. Clifford became the mascot for the publishing company.

The appeal of dogs, and the loyalty and bond between canines and humans is warmly written into all of these books with great imagination and charm.

Read more articles by Laurie Darroch

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