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Bad Dog Flash: Ruth Paul

Book: Bad Dog Flash
Author: Ruth Paul
Pages: 32
Age Range: 2-6

Bad Dog Flash is a picture book aimed at toddlers and preschoolers, about the antics of a puppy named Flash. Each pair of page spreads follows Flash getting into some sort of mischief, concluding with a pronouncement from the grown-ups of: "Bad dog, Flash." Only at the end of the book, when a little girl holds Flash, is puppy-like behavior greeted with "Good dog, Flash." 

Paul's minimal, lightly rhyming text makes this book accessible to the youngest of listeners. Bad Dog Flash could also be used as a very early reader. Here's an example, spread across four pages:

"Still cat,
dull cat.

Fast cat, 
fun cat.

Run cat!

Bad dog, Flash."

The fact that each incident is going to end with "Bad dog, Flash" is clear early on. My four-year-old enjoyed chiming in with that part, starting on our first read-through of the book. This predictability should help keep younger children engaged in the story. I think that preschoolers will also be able to relate to Flash, whose enthusiasm and energy get him into unwitting trouble. 

Flash's expressions are those of a hapless toddler, too, in Paul's warm illustrations. When he's caught digging up the garden, you can practically hear "Ooops. This wasn't a good idea" as he looks up at a wagging adult figure. The adults are always shown from the neck down (or lower), keeping the focus on Flash and his actions. Only the child owner, shown near the end of the book, has a face (a smiling, loving face). The backgrounds that Paul uses on most of the page spreads are minimalist, and this again serves to keep the focus on Flash. 

Parental warning: Flash is cute enough to entice young listeners into wanting a dog of their own. The cover is quite engaging, too, showing Flash chewing on the three-dimensional letters of the title. 

Bad Dog Flash focuses on kid-appealing mischief, with just a hint of sentiment at the end. This makes it a perfect fit for preschoolers, especially those who love dogs. Recommended for home or storytime use. 

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (@Sourcebooks)
Publication Date: October 7, 2014
Source of Book: Advance review copy from the publisher

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon and iBooks affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).