Have your tissues ready…..but, spoiler alert!
The old dog doesn’t die. This is not a book about grief.
Instead, what we get is an ode to a tiny human breathing life into an old dog.
They wander through the world, a world filled with slow delights and ample time to appreciate them. Stopping and smelling the flowers takes on new meaning, and in the process, we get an uplifting tale about the bond forged between the pair.
The opening end paper provides the back story. Old dog wants to take a walk, but the family is too busy preparing for the new baby.
But old dog doesn’t get upset. In fact, he appears to be admiring the new arrival on the title page. Or maybe he’s waiting for the baby to arrive. Either way, old dog’s expression makes it clear he welcomes the new addition to the family. (I love the illustrator’s dog mobile above the crib. Nice touch!)
As the sun fills the sky with light,
old dog wakes.
His bones are sore
but his heart is strong.
It thumps, and so does his tail.
Old dog’s glad to see a new day.
Old dog has his routine, a slow routine, one that’s now turned speedy with this new addition to the family. And old dog’s achy old body prefers s-l-o-w….
We take a walk with old dog, and live inside his mind as he yearns to take things slowly. And when he stretches out in “a stripe of sun” he “dreams of days gone by.”
And he thinks it would be nice to have a friend to share strolls and rolls and piles of leaves and the hunt for a “just-right rock.”
And then two tiny feet hit the ground near old dog’s bed.
“You can walk!”
And the wonderful thing about this? The concept of time for toddlers is well-suited to old dogs.
They both want to meander, to sniff the flowers. Toddle along. Stop and smell the grass. Go for a roll. Take lots of naps. And share the wonder that is this wide, wonderful world.
The author, Martha Brockenbrough, wrote this book after watching her own beloved, old dog welcome her new little girl to the family. This is clearly a book of her heart.
And Gabriel Alborozo’s delicate pen & ink and watercolor illustrations bring the tender relationship between old dog and the tiny toddler to life.
Pair this book with Madeleine L’Engle’s The Other Dog, illustrated by Christine Davenier. Older kids can discuss how the two books come at the topic of a new baby and family dog from different angles.
Make an easy origami dog
Make a paper bag dog puppet.
For adults (and older kids), pair this book with National Geographic’s Unconditional: Older Dogs, Deeper Love.
Title: This Old Dog
Author: Martha Brockenbrough
Illustrator: Gabriel Alborozo
Publisher: Levine Querido, 2020
Theme: new baby, dogs, families
Ages: Preschool-2nd grade
For more perfect picture book recommendations, please visit Susanna Hill’s blog.