Big Dog, Little Dog

Kane Miller. Sept. 2021. 32p. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9781760506117.
PreS-Gr 2–Big Dog is living the good life until his owner’s girlfriend moves in with Little Dog and changes all the rules. Short sentences, accompanied by realistic illustrations that use vivid color and expression to establish tone, create a story about blended families, compromise, and relationship building for young children. Rippin’s humor in having Big Dog follow “opposite” commands, such as standing up on his forelegs as if he’s dancing when he’s told to “sit,” relieves tension. It also provides moments to discuss how people may act differently (Little Dog actually does sit) and for readers to consider how Big Dog might feel. When Big Dog’s plan to frame Little Dog with doggy crimes goes awry, Big Dog realizes how much the new members of his family matter. Big Dog’s owner is a white man, while Little Dog’s owner is a Black woman.
VERDICT This brilliant Australian import offers children an opportunity to develop important social-emotional skills; it’s especially needed for those who are adjusting to new changes.

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