Cover image for Gowanus dogs
Gowanus dogs
Frost, Jonathan, 1949-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, [1999]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : illustrations ; 31 cm
A homeless man who lives under a bridge in Brooklyn finds his life changing when he decides to adopt a wild dog.
General Note:
"Frances Foster books."
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Oversize
PIC BK Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



A mother dog and her three puppies live in a rusty mixing tank from an abandoned cement truck near the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, New York. A man in a stocking cap and a long coat lives close by, in a cardboard box under the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. The man and the dogs live parallel -- but mostly non-intersecting -- lives, until the day one of the puppies becomes sick, and the man comes to her aid. This simple act sets in motion a chain reaction of goodwill: a veterinarian gives the man a job, a friend at a local diner helps find a place for him to live with the puppy he rescued, and men who work along the canal give homes to the other two puppies. In striking black-and-white etchings, Jonathan Frost captures the energy, forms, motions, and mood of an urban industrial canal while telling a tale of simple human kindness acted out in a stark cityscape.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 5^-9. The setting is the story in this oversize picture book, and Frost's strong, detailed double-page black-and-white etchings capture the roaring power of the urban landscape near the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, New York. Living in a rusty cement tank under the teeming expressway is a family of wild, hungry dogs, and nearby is a homeless man: how these fragile living creatures help each other and find shelter together is a story of kindness and grace that sets the caring of a few people against the cruel indifference of the crowded city. In his first book, Frost brings together a pounding world of heavy machinery--with close-ups kids will love of a huge 18-wheeler truck, a steel crash gate, a swinging drawbridge. Just as powerful are the gentle scenes of people cuddling the eager puppies. --Hazel Rochman

Publisher's Weekly Review

A first-time author and artist springs powerfully onto the picture book scene with this visually arresting tale of a homeless man who finds love and redemption caring for a feral puppy. Beginning with a scene of a pile of pups inside the darkened whorl of an abandoned cement mixer, Frost thrusts readers into the stimulating world of a mother dog and her three offspring. Sweeping black-and-white vistas invoke the chilly winter cityscape of their gritty urban environs near Brooklyn's Gowanus Canal. As the canine family searches for food, Frost introduces the supporting cast, all of whom play a role in this understated drama: a homeless man, a bridge worker, an oil boat crewman and Maggie, a waitress at the Blue Moon Diner. When the homeless man uses what little money he has to buy the dogs food, he sets off a chain of events that eventually finds him work and an apartment as well as homes for the three pups. Frost's narrative moves as smoothly as the ships down the Gowanus Canal, and his accomplished drawings of life on the riverway build like film frames to a climactic finish, with homeless man and pup curled up together under a roof of their own. With brief exchanges between charactersÄin both words (the boat crewman says "Welcome aboard" to the pup he later names "Captain") and pictures (in one spread, Frost subtly conveys a bond between the drawbridge operator and the pup he would adopt as "Inspector")Ähe creates, within his big-city setting, the intimacy of a closely knit community. Ages 5-up. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 1-3The gritty streets surrounding New York Citys Gowanus Canal provide the setting for this sentimental tale about a family of scruffy dogs and a homeless man who makes his bed under the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. Their paths cross as the man in a stocking cap collects cans to finance a meal at the Blue Moon Diner and the mother and her pups tear apart garbage bags in search of a tasty treat. While the adult canine hangs back, her pups roam the neighborhood charming the local bridge and boat workers and their new friend decides to use the last of his money to buy them some dog food. That night, snow covers the city and one of the puppies falls ill. The man rushes to an animal shelter where a veterinarian reluctantly agrees to treat it. Eventually, the puppys siblings are brought to the shelter. Amazingly, all ends well when the neighborhood workers adopt the other dogs and the man is able to keep his pet when he is given a job at the shelter and an apartment above the diner. Contrived conflicts are conveniently resolved and the happy ending is simply too farfetched to be believed. While the murky black-and-white etchings reinforce the mood of the story, the visual appeal is limited. A didactic account of urban woes.Alicia Eames, New York City Public Schools (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.