April 27th is going to be a great day this year. It marks the much- anticipated release of Don’t Lick the Dog by award-winning illustrator Wendy Wahman. I have read the sample copy of this book over and over and I enjoy it every time (I am unfazed by the fact that it is designed for children ages 3-8). The drawings are unlike those I have ever seen in a children’s book. They are beautiful, vibrant, and express the gamut of emotions that children and dogs have in each other’s company. The story conveys such joy and excitement, and at the same time such gentleness and thoughtfulness towards both dogs and kids. Get ready to feast your eyes on the masterfully created illustrations and the gorgeous design you’ll see page after page.
There are a couple of things that make this book one-of-a-kind. First, this is the only children’s book I know of that describes the correct way to make friends with a dog, and why it is so important to do it right. For example, plenty of people still teach their children to extend their hands for a dog to sniff. But that is outdated, potentially risky advice (and honestly, according to dogs, just plain rude). The narrator of Don’t Lick the Dog, a pony-tailed lady out on a walk with her six dogs, teaches her three young friends what to do instead: “Stand still and let dogs come to you, to smell your hand or sniff your shoe.” My very favorite pages show a dog being patted on the head by eager little hands, also a no-no (“Whap! Whap! Whap! Dogs hate that!”), followed by advice on what dogs wish we humans would do instead: “Gently stroke his chin or chest, or rub his cheek—Boo likes that best.”
Second, this book is simply a crack-up. There are little visual jokes and puns that you won’t see the first time you read, but that will reveal themselves with each new reading. I can’t think of a better way to learn something new than to have fun doing so. This book will delight your kids, teach them all the right things, and tickle their funny bones, too.
At Wendy Wahman’s blog you’ll find more information about Don’t Lick the Dog, upcoming book readings, and activities parents and educators can use with kids. I am so excited about this book that I am attending the launch party at Park Place Books in hopes of getting some autographed copies. Copies are also available for pre-order online. To tide you over, view these print-outs on the best way to meet a dog and the ABC’s of Dog Safety. And remember, don’t lick the dog!