Good Dog, Carl

Author/Illustrator: Alexandra Day

One day the family Rottweiler, Carl, is left to babysit the baby who is just old enough to stand up . . . and get into trouble. Carl and the baby wait sedately while the baby’s mom leaves, but as soon as mom is well away, the fun begins. The two have a fantastic romp around the house, playing dress up, dancing, and getting a delicious (but messy) snack–with Carl all the while being both responsible and indulgent in the best combination. As it nears time for mom to return, Carl whisks into cleanup mode, gets the baby back in bed,  and gets the house straightened up so that everything is just right when mom arrives. What a good dog!

Good Dog, Carl was one of my absolute favorite books when I was little–actually my copy is just about dead from too much love! The story is such a grand romp, full of good, innocent fun and all the things you dream of doing as a little kid, all the while knowing you’d get in huge trouble if you actually tried them. Carl, while not a traditional or realistic babysitter, gives a feeling of solid responsibility and protection that is really reassuring. And I love the way the story’s told: only a few words at the beginning and end, and the rest is told completely in pictures. I think it’s accessible to a broader audience because of the way it’s told; even for those who don’t read English well and children who are too young to follow a verbal plot can enjoy the story. Plus, Day’s art is wonderful. It’s really expressive, fun, and warm, in a style that reminds me somewhat of Mary Cassatt’s work. Good Dog, Carl is a great book to share as a bedtime story or a read-together anytime story–or as a nostalgic treat for adults!

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