Picture books for the youngest readers can be many things—beautiful, moving, offbeat. But sometimes children (and their parents, too) are just looking for something, well, silly. Satisfying this common craving is Stephen Shaskan’s new A Dog Is a Dog, a series of rhyming couplets illustrated in a pleasantly upbeat faux-retro style.
The book begins as if it’s going to be merely about the various canine attributes. Until, that is, we get to the end of the first set of couplets—”A dog is a dog, unless it’s…a cat!”—at which point the dog who’d been romping around the previous pages unzips himself to reveal that he’s really a cat in a dog suit. (If you keep the premise from them, young kids will find this moment both truly shocking and hilariously funny; they may even need to pause before proceeding.)
From there, of course, we get more sets of couplets followed by more costume unzippings, which my little ones met with mounting hysteria. I won’t give away the full menagerie here, but suffice it to say that a squid is involved at one point, before Shaskan neatly wraps things up by bringing back where we started. There’s nothing terribly deep going on in A Dog Is a Dog—it’s just very successful at being very silly indeed, in a novel way. And when that’s what you and your kids are after, there’s nothing more you could need from a picture book.
Photo: Whitney Webster
From You Know, For Kids