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When I read Little Dog Poems and Little Dog and Duncan to students, hands fly up around the room. Children can't wait to share stories of their pets and this enthusiasm makes a wonderful prompt for students to start writing their own poems about their own pets.
If you've used Little Dog Poems or Little Dog and Duncan in your classroom and have an idea or suggestion to share, let me know!
The idea for Little Dog and Duncan arrived one afternoon when our neighbor's Labrador Retriever mix, Mocha, bounded through the front door. It was a simple recipe: Take one calm household with one small dog. Add one BIG dog. Mix together and you get...chaos, mischief, and lots of fun!
Even though she weighed 70 + pounds, Mocha did not intimidate our little dog, Spri, in the least. As a matter of fact, Spri wasted no time letting Mocha know who is "boss" at her house. In watching Spri and Mocha play together—and test each other's boundaries—I found myself thinking about friendship and that special, trusting moment when a child or dog truly feels "at home" in a friend's house.
June Otani did a great deal of research for this book; she even attended the Westminister Dog Show to study the various breeds. The character she finally chose for "Duncan" is based on the champion Irish Wolfhounds she studied and sketched. I laughed when I saw the opening spread of Duncan at the front door. What a terrific dog!
I hope you enjoy reading about Little Dog's adventures. Perhaps it will inspire you to invite a canine friend over for tea or to spend the night!
Claudia Lewis Poetry Award
Noteworthy Books for Children
Nominated for South Dakota's Prairie Bud award
2 Starred Reviews!
Starred review, School Library Journal "George has a real knack for choosing ordinary moments and describing them in accessible yet lyrical language, transforming the mundane into the magical. The poems have been pared down and polished to perfection; although written in free verse, they have the elegance and quiet eloquence of haiku. Otani's watercolor paintings are filled with personality and charm. The use of white space or very understated backgrounds keeps the focus on the interaction between the characters, whose expressions and body language echo the emotional nuances of each selection. Glowing with warmth and gentle humor, this book makes a great choice for reading aloud, or for quiet sharing while children are snuggled up with their favorite pet or stuffed pooch."
Starred Review Horn Book Magazine "...harmoniously designed for both sense and for interplay with Otani's beguilingly casual watercolor sketches of the two dogs and the little-girl narrator/poet."
"My English teacher used to tell me that a real poet uses the smallest number of words to say the biggest things. In which case, Kristine O'Connell George is the master. The quiet brilliance of Little Dog Poems is followed up this season with Little Dog and Duncan, in which a large and lolloping new friend is welcomed for an overnight stay. "Duncan is a digger./ Little Dog is a digger./ That's how they met/ mud." Besides being a tender and observant ode to canine life, O'Connell's natural, almost conversational free verse surreptitiously shows children what a poem can be. The unpretentious paintings are as well suited to the text as Duncan is to Little Dog, complimenting the poems without upstaging them. Both Little Dog books ring with a big gladness for little things."
Esmé Raji Codell Planetesme.com
"Mine! Mine! Mine!"
"Is Duncan There?"