August 26 – International Dog Day

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About the Holiday

International Dog Day was established in 2004 by Colleen Paige to raise awareness of all the dogs who need forever homes. The day also celebrates dogs of all breeds and honors the work of these faithful friends, whether they are family pets or specially trained as service dogs, police dogs, or search-and-rescue dogs. This month is also National Family Fun Month, and as pet owners know, the special times we spend with our furry, feathered, or other friends add up to lots of family fun. 

This Old Dog

Written by Martha Brockenbrough | Illustrated by Gabriel Alborozo

 

In the morning, old dog opens his eyes and greets the sun. “His bones are sore but his heart is strong.” He leaves his bed and stretches. He has breakfast and then asks for a walk. But there’s a new baby in the house, and while old dog likes to take things slow, “the speed of life since the girl was born is fast, fast, fast…” and his walks are too.

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Image copyright Gabriel Alborozo, 2020, text copyright Martha Brockenbrough, 2020. Courtesy of Levine Querido.

When he gets home, he “drifts to sleep in a stripe of sun and dreams of days gone by….Of long walks and deep sniffs.” When he wakes up, he wishes he had a friend who saw grass and leaf piles and stones the way he did; someone he could go on nice long walks with. But there is no one. Until…the girl takes one shaky step and then another and another “all the way to him.”

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Image copyright Gabriel Alborozo, 2020, text copyright Martha Brockenbrough, 2020. Courtesy of Levine Querido.

Now “old dog and small girl walk side by side.” They stop in the grass and “roll down the hill.” She plays with old dog and makes him feel young again. His heart and his tail go “THUMP-THUMP!” Her feet go “THUMP-THUMP!” That night they fall asleep in the same strip of moonlight and “meet in a dream…” where they “walk side by side through the world, the wonderful world.”

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Image copyright Gabriel Alborozo, 2020, text copyright Martha Brockenbrough, 2020. Courtesy of Levine Querido.

You don’t need to own a dog for Martha Brockenbrough’s story to melt your heart. Her short, straightforward sentences are carried on a leisurely, dreamy rhythm, giving them emotional impact and allowing readers to relive the good days, when there was all the time in the world, with old dog. Her lyrical language is endearingly dog-centric, but when the girl comes on the scene, readers will see that each example of old dog’s favorite things also applies to toddlers and young children. That old dog gets to slow down and enjoy life at his speed with the little girl may bring a tear to adult readers while kids will embrace the spontaneity and unspoken understanding between these two kindred spirits. Perfectly paced and with specific details borne of love for dogs and children, Brockenbrough’s This Old Dog offers the comfort of enduring friendship and the joy of discovering—and rediscovering—the world with a loved one.

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Image copyright Gabriel Alborozo, 2020, text copyright Martha Brockenbrough, 2020. Courtesy of Levine Querido.

Gabriel Alborozo’s small, long-haired dog, gray and slowed by age yet still lively in spirit is as cute as they come. The front endpaper, which shows a dog’s-eye-view of a man and a very pregnant woman setting up a nursery gives children a hint of the changes to come in old dog’s home. As old dog is introduced, scattered toys and a photograph of a little girl on the windowsill show the progression of time. From the adults’ rushing legs to the first glimpse of the girl walking, each spread depicts old dog’s perspective, mirroring the emotional pull of the text.

What old dog wants in a walk and what he dreams of in his afternoon nap are contrasted with his new reality with images of his collar being tugged by the leash left, right, and forward as he stops to sniff the grass or listen to the breeze. In his sweet remembrances of past carefree days, old dog has no leash. Readers will be cheered to see that as he and the little girl play together he once again is let off the leash to share his old and her new favorite activities. Alborozo’s delicate lines and cartoon-inspired images are just right for portraying old dog’s dreams, emotions, and special times shared with the little girl. Humorous touches and old dog’s expressive face add visual depth and understanding to this special tale.

Moving, sweet, and reaffirming, This Old Dog is a must and will quickly become a favorite on home, classroom, and public library bookshelves.

Ages 4 – 7

Levine Querido, 2020 | ISBN 978-1646140107

Discover more about Martha Brockenbrough and her books on her website.

To learn more about Gabriel Alborozo, his books, and his art, visit his website.

International Dog Day Activity

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I Love Dogs! Word Search Puzzle

 

If you love dogs, you’ll have fun discovering the names of eighteen dog breeds in this printable word search puzzle!

I Love Dogs! Word Search Puzzle | I Love Dogs! Word Search Solution

For younger kids, here’s a matching puzzle!

CPB - Peppy Puppies Match Up Puzzle

Peppy Puppies Match Up Puzzle

 

Each of the puppies has a friend. Can you match them up based on one trait? There may be multiple right answers! Why do you think the dogs you chose go together in this printable puzzle?

Peppy Puppies Match Up Puzzle

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You can find This Old Dog at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million 

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound | The Neverending Bookshop (preorder before September 1 to receive a signed book and special dog tag necklace)

Picture Book Review

 

November 12 – Fancy Rat and Mouse Day

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About the Holiday

Today gives us a chance to take another look at rats and mice. I’m not talking about the kind of mouse I’ve seen scurrying around in my garage or the kind of rat that…well, honestly, I hope is nowhere near my garage. The guys  we’re celebrating today are fancy, which means they are bred to make good pets. Despite their bad rap, mice and rats are smart, loyal, and clean. They don’t require as much care as a dog or cat, and they can be fun to play with. The American Fancy Rat and Mouse Association holds events around the country to introduce people to these alternative pets. Today, you may want to check one out.

The Mouse and the Moon

By Gabriel Alborozo

 

“In a dark and broken tree, in a dark and wild wood, there lived a little mouse. All alone. His only friend was the moon.” The little mouse waited each night for the moon to appear so that he could talk about his day and his hopes, dreams, and fears. The moon always listened silently. The little mouse began to think that the moon was just too far away to hear him, so he went in search of his friend.

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Image and text copyright Gabriel Alborozo, courtesy us.macmillan.com

The mouse scampered through the woods, but no matter how far he went, the moon never seemed any closer. Pretty soon the mouse was far from home and “was feeling a little afraid.” When he stopped to rest, the mouse looked into the night sky, but could no longer see the moon. Suddenly, he heard a whispered “‘Hello?’” The mouse cautiously looked around and replied, “‘Hello?’” “And there, floating in a small, still pool, was the moon.” The mouse was excited to have found his friend at last.

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Image and text copyright Gabriel Alborozo, courtesy us.macmillan.com

But what he didn’t see was the tiny fish “hidden from sight, beneath the moon’s reflection.” The little fish was equally glad to finally hear from his friend the moon. “‘I’ve been waiting so long to talk to you!’ bubbled the tiny fish.” The two spent the night telling each other everything. As the sun rose, the moon began to fade. The mouse and the fish both pleaded for the moon to stay. The mouse crept as close to the edge of the pool as he could, and the fish swam close to the surface of the water.

When the moon’s reflection finally vanished in full daylight, “the two new friends saw each other for the first time….Both together and both happy.”

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Image and text copyright Gabriel Alborozo, courtesy us.macmillan.com

Gabriel Alborozo’s sweet, gentle story of friendship found is a beautiful tribute to perseverance, bravery, and discovery. After spending time telling the moon all about their lives with no response, the fish and the mouse, instead of giving up, go in search of their friend. For the mouse this means leaving his comfort zone and facing on his own some of the fears that he has shared with the moon. The fish, meanwhile, continues calling out until he receives an answer back. While both believe they are talking to their long-held confidant, when the moon disappears, the fish and the mouse happily embrace each other as new friends. Alborozo’s lines are simple and tranquil, with alliteration that flows as smoothly as the ripples on a pond.

Alborozo’s striking black-and-white illustrations, punctuated in the early pages only by the adorable golden-haired mouse, well represent the mouse’s loneliness of the heart. Similarly, the golden-scaled fish lives in a black-and-white world until he and the mouse see each other. As the moon vanishes, the pool and pond grasses are transformed by yellow, green, violet, blue, and orange hues into a sunny, happy landscape echoed in the smiles of the new best friends.

The Mouse and the Moon is a lovely quiet story time or bedtime book, and its comforting charm will make it a favorite with many children. This book would be a nice addition to home bookshelves.

Ages 2 – 7

Henry Holt, 2016 | ISBN 978-1627792240

To discover more picture books as well as a gallery of “bits not in books” by Gabriel Alborozo, visit his website!

Fancy Rat and Mouse Day Activity

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Cute Mice Coloring Pages

 

Here are a couple of fancy mice – one just hanging out and one all dressed up in her finest clothes – for you to color. After you’ve colored these pages, why not write a short story about them!

Cute Mouse Coloring Page | Dressed-up Mouse Coloring Page

Picture Book Review