|Martha Speaks (TV series) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
1. Martha Speaks - Yes, it's now a franchise and TV show, but back in 1992, author Susan Meddaugh took a lunchtime staple- alphabet soup & poured it down Martha's mouth to an inspiring response. If you're a dog person like me, I bet you are always putting words in your dog's mouth-so this is a believable premise for kids and adult readers. The fun begins on the dedication page when Mom, unseen says in a thought bubble,"I hope that soup is gone when I come back in there." Just like our own offspring, once Martha begins dialogue diarrhea blurts out uncensored comments about others ("Why is that man so fat?'), we wish they never learned to talk. But, Martha saves the day in true hero dog fashion.
2. My Big Dog - My first author/illustrator visit as a new librarian was from Janet Stevens who co-writes with her sister Susan Stevens Crummel. This larger-than-life pup dominates the illustrations and the story as the antagonist, but never even gets a name. He doesn't need it. Whiny cat Merl, our narrator, makes it clear big dog does not belong, everything belongs to him, eventually even "my big dog!" My grandson laughs every time we read this! He loves Merl's sarcastic tone of voice and the puppy's slurppy tongue in Merl's ear. At our elementary school in Hilliard, Ohio, the art teacher and kids created a mural of the big dog that literally took up the whole school entrance way. Kids from K-6th grade will love Janet's other books, too!
3.A Ball for Daisy- I was lucky enough to meet author/illustrator Chris Raschka this summer at the Mazza Summer Institute in Findlay, Ohio. Chris shared his process for the story-boarding and plot of this 2012 Caldecott winner. Chris says wordless picture books actually illicit more vocabulary from kids as they make up the words to fit the story. This fun, bouncy book about a dog and his ball went through more revisions than one could ever imagine. Grandson Tobin loves to point out how the ball changes thorhgtout the story. I actually see the ball as a character with its own character arc. for fun, try acting this story out with young kids or even adults as we did at Mazza. The results are hilarious.