Schmidt, A. (2009). Loose Leashes. New York: Random House.
Created by a husband and wife team, Loose Leashes shares poems of dogs who are anthropomorphized in various ways. Honey doesn’t want to go to a groomer. Lewis and Clark seek adventure. Grace goes ice-skating. Pip and Squeak fight over a bone (Okay, so the last one is still typical dog behavior).
From the first poem, “Loose Leashes,” several dogs are free to do as they please and most seek adventure of some sort. A few dogs deal with overcoming their fears. But most just have fun.
The poems are cute and funny and lend support to the images they stand beside. For me, it’s the photographs that are most engaging. Surreal and fun, many kids will want to stare at them for a while, especially dog lovers.
Some may even try to pet the end papers, which feature photos of a white dog’s coat.
Activities to Do with the Book:
After seeing the photos of Loose Leaches and reading or listening to the poetry, students may be inspired to write their own poems or stories based on the photographs (It might be easiest to give each students or small groups a photocopy of one of the images and have them write the poems beginning with describing what they see).
Another option would be to have students pick their own favorite animal and draw them in strange settings or with various objects.
A teacher could also ask students if they’ve read any other picturebooks that feature animals in weird places. (I think Chris Van Allsburg’s Jumanji would be a natural beginning).
Although Loose Leashes does not list the dog breeds featured in the illustrations, a teacher could use the book to trigger a research project on various breeds.
“I’m going far—
Just need to learn to drive this car.”
“Sharing is always a hard thing to do,
Especially when one bone is given to two.”
“There once was a dog that could read
With amazing page-turning speed.”