Cover image for The strange adventures of Blue Dog
The strange adventures of Blue Dog
Van Leeuwen, Jean.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Dial Books for Young Readers, [1999]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 23 x 28 cm
Billy's love for his toy Blue Dog, who lives on a toy farm, transforms both their lives, making Blue Dog's world seem real and inspiring Billy to get a real dog.
Reading Level:
400 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.2 0.5 32252.

Reading Counts RC K-2 3.1 2 Quiz: 22755 Guided reading level: N.
Added Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

On Order



Blue Dog lives on a small wooden farm where life is pretty quiet -- except when Big Billy comes to visit. Whenever that happens, things change. Suddenly the pig is put in the hayloft, and Blue Dog might find himself in the chicken coop. But no change is as startling as the one that occurs when Big Billy picks Blue Dog way, way up and says, "I wish I had a dog just like you." It's then that Blue Dog's strange and wondrous adventures truly begin.

Jean Van Leeuwen and Marco Ventura offer this tender yet unsentimental tale sure to touch the mind and heart of any child (of any age) who has felt the magical power of a beloved toy.

Author Notes

Jean Van Leeuwen was born in Rutherford, New Jersey on December 26, 1937. She received a bachelor's degree in journalism from Syracuse University. Before becoming a full-time author, she worked in the children's book department of a publisher. She is the author of more than 50 books including Timothy's Flower, Bound for Oregon, and the Oliver and Amanda series.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

A small, blue wooden dog lives a (real) dog's life, for a while, in this confusing story. Blue Dog lives in a wooden toy farm in Big Billy's room. The boy tucks Blue Dog in his pocket and takes him everywhere, to school and even on a field trip to a working farm. Big Billy makes no secret of the fact that what he wants is a real dog, and when he gets a springer spaniel near the close of the book and names it "Blue," the pet usurps the toy's place: "Now it was Blue who waited for Big Billy to come home from school, and Blue who went traveling." Although Van Leeuwen (the Amanda Pig books; Going West) hints that Blue Dog could be "real" after he visits the working farm, and the artwork portrays Blue Dog running alongside Billy as if he were lifesize, such suggestions are only a tease. Unlike The Velveteen Rabbit, in which love makes the toy come to life, Billy sadly admits that his toy is not real; and Blue Dog doesn't seem concerned that he is largely shunted aside by the living, breathing pet. A newcomer to children's books, Ventura creates serene, detailed oil paintings, luminous with warm sun or bluish moonlight. The photo-realist quality of the illustrations works well with the tale's interplay between reality and fantasy. But because the tale is told from Blue Dog's point of view, readers will identify with the appealing fellow, and likely be disappointed that he is ultimately cast aside. Ages 4-8. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 2-Blue Dog, a piece of a miniature farm set, is excited when Big Billy, the toys' owner, plays with him. The child becomes attached to Blue Dog, carrying him around, keeping him in his pocket, taking him to school, and sleeping with him. Eventually, the boy gets a real dog, and now that animal, named Blue, waits for him to come home and goes traveling with him. Meanwhile, Blue Dog is content to "take care" of his farm, and it is still he who sleeps on Big Billy's pillow at night. Ventura's oil-paint illustrations are found on every other page, spilling from corner to corner; and their still-life effect, though more vibrant in color, is reminiscent of Richard Egielski's artwork for Pam Conrad's Tub People (HarperCollins, 1995). This quiet story of friendship between a child and his toy will have some youngsters running to renew acquaintances with some of their forgotten possessions. While not a first purchase, it will find an audience.-Tom S. Hurlburt, La Crosse Public Library, WI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.