Title: That Dog!That Dog
Author: Nanette Newman
Illustrator: Marylin Hafner
Pages: 48
Reading Level: Read Aloud
Star Rating: ★★★

That dog! That Barnum. He’s inseparable from his pal, Ben, who teaches him all sorts of cool tricks and reads Treasure Island to him at night. Barnum barks and howls and plays soccer with Ben and listens whenever Ben needs to get things off his chest. He’s all that a boy could ever hope for in a dog – or a friend.

Discussion.

The basic storyline of That Dog! Is obvious – it’s a tale of a boy and his dog. But it’s much more than that, really – it’s a tale of a boy and his dog against the world. Because, see, nobody understands Barnum except Ben. And nobody understands Ben except Barnum. The silly, mean neighbor lady accuses Barnum of snarling when really he’s smiling. She accuses him of barking when he was actually talking. Ben’s mother accuses Barnum of whining when he’s really singing. Ben slips Barnum food when he’s not supposed to…

In the end Barnum dies. It’s very sad. Ben is sad, his parents are sad, and even the pesky neighbor lady is sad. Ben categorically refuses the idea of adopting a new dog – nobody can take Barnum’s place! But after he finds a homeless puppy at the park, Ben comes to realize that beginning a new relationship is not the same as replacing the old relationship. He’ll always treasure his friendship with Barnum, but now he also has Buster.

The last picture shows an oversized Barnum looking down lovingly as Ben and Buster walk to the park.

Conclusion. Just okay.

Review © 2014 Laura Verret

 

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