Marti loves children’s books. She loves to buy them; I love to read them; and until reading became something painful for Chandler, he loved to be read to. Not that there was any serious correlation between the two, but for Marti, having children was a really good excuse for buying more children’s books. She still buys them occasionally, especially if they are illustrated well. With our first grandchild due in November, I expect we will start picking up on the children’s book market.
A favorite of both Christopher and Chandler was Go, Dog. Go!, by P.D. Eastman. It’s a simple beginning reader with such short sentences that you can memorize them and think you’re reading even before you know what you’re doing.
Most children’s books disguise serious themes, since adults will be mostly reading them to their children and we need to be interested, too. This one is no exception.
It’s about diversity. There are big dogs and little dogs; black dogs and white dogs; and red, green, blue and yellow dogs as well.
There are dogs at work and dogs at play. Both are important (sometimes we forget to play).
There are dogs on top of things and dogs under things, as well as dogs over and under the water. There are dogs going up and dogs going down, and dogs going all around. We learn lots of prepositions from these dogs.
There are dogs asleep at night — 21 dogs asleep in one bed, except for one who is wide awake. And then it’s time for all dogs to get up: “Go dogs. Go!” Except for one who is still asleep; probably the one who was awake earlier. We know that feeling.
There are even dogs with opinions. Three times a pink female dog asks a yellow and black spotted dog if he likes her hat. It’s a different hat each time, and each time the yellow dog says, “I do not like that hat.” And probably, in one of the more subtle messages of this little book, the two dogs part smiling. It’s okay for her to like something he does not like. It’s not the end of the world.
Both my boys’ favorite part was dogs in cars. In their cars they would go away fast. They would stop at stop signs in order to not run over a scared little birdie. They would have to obey road signs. And at the end of the book, they are all in their cars going to a very large tree, on top of which is a very large dog party. There’s cake and ice cream, presents and party hats, fireworks and a trampoline net; they are swinging from branches, and even one green dog is about to be shot from a cannon. It’s quite a dog party with lots to look at. Just about every time we read this book, we found something new about this dog party we hadn’t seen before.
And one last time, while getting ready to climb the ladder to the top of the tree, the little pink dog asks the spotted yellow dog if he likes her hat. It’s quite an elaborate hat this time with a flower pot on top, and spiders, a fish and a mouse dangling from what look like little fishing poles. This time, the yellow dog says, “I do. What a hat! I like it! I like that party hat!” And in the last frame, the pink and yellow dogs are in a car, driving off into the sunset with their party hats on, saying, “Good-by!”
The hardest part is still, “Dogs in cars again. Going away. Going away fast.” And not being able to say, “Good-by.” It’s still hard.