P.D. Eastman's Go, Dog. Go!
Children's book review by Steve Barancik
Dogs on cars. Dogs in hats. Dogs of different colors.
Some people think P.D. (Philip) Eastman and Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel) were the same person. They were not. They were friends. They met in the army.
Eastman wrote and illustrated a number of books under Seuss's "Beginner Books" label. Think of Eastman as Seuss's less crazy colleague. Where Seuss gave us crazy rhymes, Eastman provides simple prose. Where Seuss drew otherworldly creatures and environments, Eastman illustrated more realistically.
Well, if you can call yellow, red, blue and green dogs driving around in cars realistic!
Go, Dog. Go! is Eastman at his best. The author of Are You My Mother? (both books are among the most popular books of the 20th century) presents us a fun world in which colorful dogs are always up to something.
Eastman starts off with a focus on prepositions.
Two big dogs going up. One little dog going down.
The green dog is up. The yellow dog is down.
Now, if that sounds rather (yawn) boring, it's because you're not looking at the pictures. Dogs in roller coasters going up and down! Dogs in elaborate pulley systems being up and down!
Not only are the illustrations great fun, but they serve as helpful hints for kids with an urge to start reading for themselves.
"A yellow dog under a tree" is a lot easier to puzzle out (and triumph over) when there's a picture of a yellow dog reading a book under a tree.
Most of the time though, these dogs are engaged in action These are canines with a job to do or a place to be or fun to have...hence the title.
The book is less a story than a series of canine scenarios.
One dog up on a house.
Three dogs down in the water.
Two dogs in a house on a boat in the water.
Still, there is some gathering excitement - action culminates in a huge dog party atop a tree - as well as some continuity, in the form of a boy dog and a girl dog and his feelings about her increasingly complex headware.
And now do you like my hat?
I do. What a hat! I like it!
How could he not? It features a flower pot, candy canes, fishing poles with various creatures hanging off them, and a bone.
The book ends with the two of them driving off into the sunset and saying goodbye to the reader.
Go, Dog. Go!
This is a book that makes kids feel good about themselves. After all, it features dogs acting like kids who are acting like grown-ups. And it features text that kids who are still miles away from real reading can successfully guess at, given all the visual context that Eastman provides.
"Look, I'm reading!"
If those sound like nice words to hear or say, then Go, Dog. Go! will be a nice book to have around.
Read more of Steve's reviews.
Looking for another book about learning colors? See Mouse Paint!
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