Sunday, April 26, 2009

First Dog - Book Review

"'I'll trot across the continents, that's what I'll do. And if I'm lucky, maybe I'll find the perfect place to live.' So he set off to travel the world." - First Dog by J. Patrick Lewis and Beth Zappitello, illustrated by Tim Bowers

I know that some people found the whole media blitz regarding the Obama's search for a puppy a little much. I personally liked hearing about their search and loved learning a few weeks ago that they adopted a Portuguese water dog, naming him Bo. Those that like hearing about Bo must read this adorable children's picture book that tells the story of a special fictional puppy with presidential hopes.

In the book, First Dog, a black puppy feels lost without a home. Ready for an adventure he sets out on a worldwide trip in search of the perfect place to live. He visits countries all over the globe and meets many different types of dogs but none of the places feels like home. Sad and tired he ends up back where he started. By accident he happens upon a newspaper article about a very important family looking for a dog. With hopeful stars in his eyes he makes his way to a big, white house in Washington, D.C.

Father-Daughter duo J. Patrick Lewis and Beth Zappitello bring readers an interesting and fact-filled story about a lonely globe-trotting dog with their perfectly timed release coinciding with the White House dog announcement. Tim Bower's cute illustrations (created using oil paint on canvas) perfectly capture the innocent puppy expression, depict many famous landmarks around the world and creatively include some newer technologies like the Segway.

The dog in the book looks exactly like a Portuguese water dog. Apparently this choice wasn't by accident, but carefully planned. Because the book features so many different places around the world, it makes an entertaining lesson in geography. The endpapers list ten different dog breeds included in the story along with fun breed facts. We actually learned quite about some breeds we hadn't ever heard of by reading the book. The only thing that perplexes me...why aren't any facts about the Portuguese water dog breed listed? Here are the breeds/destinations discussed in the story, in case you are wondering if your favorites made the cut:
Newfoundland - Newfoundland • London - English Bulldog • France - Poodle • Croatia - Dalmatian • Russia - Borzoi • China - Chinese Char-Pei • Australia - Dingo • South Africa - Rhodesian Ridgeback • South America - Peruvian Hairless • Mexico - Chihuahua
Besides the current events connection, this book makes a great adopt-a-pet read. It makes me want to go to our local shelter and find a new friend for our family.
First Dog J. Patrick Lewis and Beth Zappitello, illustrated by Tim Bowers. Sleeping Bear Press (April 2009); 32 pages; ISBN 9781585364671

Related Links:
J. Patrick Lewis - Author Website
Tim Bowers - Illustrator Website
A Patchwork of Books Author Interview
Sleeping Bear Press Blog for First Dog
You Tube Video - The Obamas' New Dog