Ries, L. (2009). Good Dog, Aggie. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge.
Appetizer: A wonderful transition from picturebooks to early readers, Good Dog, Aggie shares the story of a young boy, Ben, and his dog, Aggie. Since Aggie doesn't listen to Ben (and actually does eat his homework despite being told no), Ben decides to take her to obedience school at the pet shop. But soon the teacher decides Aggie and the boy may be too disruptive for the class. So, it's up to Ben to train Aggie on his own.
I like the way this early reader is set up. Small pictures often break up the text, preventing young readers from becoming too frustrated by the increased amount of text.
The illustrations are childlike. Often geometric shapes are used to form the bodies and faces of the characters, serving as a guide for how kids can create their own illustrations.
Colors and senses are intermixed throughout the story. Something sounds green. Something else smells orange. I found this phrasing very interesting.
While many dog lovers will enjoy this book, I have to admit a six-year-old version of myself wouldn't find this story very interesting. But that's me. I realized from a young age that I was more of a fantasy-minded reader.
"Aggie is a good dog.
She runs fast.
She is a good eater.
But she does not listen."
"You are a good dog, Aggie,
but you do not obey."
She runs under one dog.
She jumps over another dog.
Now all the dogs run. They run and bark.
The treats fly up, up up."
"Do not eat the grasshopper, Aggie."
Aggie sniffs. The grasshopper jumps.
Aggie jumps, too!
"Silly Aggie, " I say, "grasshoppers are not for you."
To Go with the Meal:
I really like that Aggie is "good" from the very beginning of the story. It's a nice reminder that a dog (or a person) is still good even though they make mistakes from time to time.
This would be an excellent early reader to share with new dog owners. Good Dog, Aggie show the process a young owner will go through to train their dog to obey. It shows how gradual and frustrating school can be. And I use the word "school" in that last sentence very intentionally. Aggie's struggles are relatable to children who may be having trouble in school. As with Aggie, this kids often need to be reminded that they're worth more than the grades they receive in class.
Tasty Rating: !!!