Literacy Milestone: Reading A First Book
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This book just ate my dog! by Richard Byrne

Book: This book just ate my dog!
Author: Richard Byrne
Pages: 32
Age Range: 3-6

This book just ate my dog!, by Richard Byrne, is a playful story that encourages kids to interact with the book. The author makes it clear from the first page that the story is taking place within the context of a book. We begin: "Bella was taking her dog for a stroll across the page when...". And then Bella's dog just disappears into the crack in the middle of the book. A boy who tries to help and a "Dog Rescue" ambulance also disappear into the book. Eventually, Bella disappears herself. Fortunately, she's able to get a note out to the reader, indicating how to resolve the tricky situation. 

This book just ate my dog! is a wonderful read-aloud. It's one of those books that you try to read silently to yourself, but you can't help imagining (or sharing aloud to the empty room) the inflexions that you would use to read it to a child. I think this is partly due to Byrne's use of short, punchy phrases and cliffhangers, and partly due to the mastery with which he conveys Bella's emotions. You can see exactly what she's feeling, which makes it easy to read the words in that same tone.

Not that one would really use it this way, but this book would actually make a good primer with which to teach young kids about different emotions (puzzled, dejected, hopeful, etc.). After the Dog Rescue vehicle disappears into the book, Bella is the perfect epitome of crestfallen. 

Byrne's illustrations are deceptively simple, with sponged gray backgrounds, and a minimal white grid drawn to indicate the ground. This muted background makes brightly drawn Bella, holding the red leash for her missing dog, stand out.

The end of the book borrows a page from Herve Tullet's Press Here, asking the young reader to interact with the book. I can't imagine any reader who will be able to resist. This book just ate my dog! is absolutely perfect for preschool age readers, and, with brief text, might also work as an early reader for slightly older kids. This is going to be one of my new "go to" books. Highly recommended. 

Publisher: Henry Holt Books for Young Readers (@MacKidsBooks)
Publication Date: September 30, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

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