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Animal Character, Early/Young Readers, Picture Books, Read-Aloud Suggestions, Teacher & Parent Recommendations

CAN I BE YOUR DOG? by Troy Cummings… 2020 MN STAR OF THE NORTH nominee

I confess, I am a dog person all the way! I love stories about dogs and Can I Be Your Dog? is a sweet addition to my picture-books-with-dogs-as-featured-characters list.

Arfy the dog wants to belong to someone.  He writes a letter to every house on Butternut Street with all kinds of reasons why he would be an ideal companion. Everyone turns him down. Lonely and miserable, Arfy receives a letter from someone who also needs a friend, and finds his forever home.

The text is completely within the structure of Arfy’s letters (and the one he receives). The illustrations begin with bright colors and gradually become darker, filled with browns and grays, dark blues and black as Arfy’s future seems to grow bleaker, culminating in Arfy’s heartbreaking howl as he huddles in a soggy cardboard box in the rain. The letter to Arfy brings with it brightening colors–yellows and greens, sky blue and pink–emphasizing the loneliness and then the joy of finding a companion.

Can I Be Your Dog? is a fun read-aloud or independent choice for young readers–especially for those families (like mine) that love a good dog story! The text blurb says it is a “heart-tugging” story; the text and illustrations combine perfectly to make it just that. Innocent and sweet, Can I Be Your Dog? WILL make you want to run and cuddle your own canine companions!


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