Cover image for If you were a dog
If you were a dog
Swenson, Jamie.
Personal Author:
1st ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Farrar Straus Giroux, 2014.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : chiefly color illustrations ; 24 cm
Easy-to-read text invites the reader to imagine life as a dog, a cat, a fish, a bird, and even a dinosaur.
Added Author:
Format :


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If you could be any kind of animal, what would you be? Would you be a dog that goes ARRRROOOOOOO? Or maybe you would be a sharp-toothed dinosaur that can CHOMP, STOMP, ROAR! Perhaps you might want to be a hopping frog that goes BOING, BOING, RIBBET! But maybe you would want to be the best kind of animal of all: a child! With joyful, impressionistic illustrations from Caldecott Medal-winning illustrator Chris Raschka and spare, rhythmic text that invites playful interaction, If You Were a Dog is the perfect read-aloud for your favorite little animal.

Author Notes

Jamie A. Swenson works as an associate librarian and early literacy storyteller. She is also the author of Boom! Boom! Boom!, illustrated by David Walker. She lives in Janesville, Wisconsin. Chris Raschka has written and/or illustrated over thirty books for children, including the Caldecott Medal-winning titles A Ball for Daisy and The Hello, Goodbye Window; as well as the Caldecott Honor book Yo! Yes? He lives in New York City.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Elegant, curious free verse and lush watercolors combine in a jaunty musing about the wonders of zoological pretending. As the title begins, Swenson's second-person verse launches an imagining of what you might be and how you might behave if you were a dog or a cat, a fish or a bird, a bug or a frog, or a dinosaur. The patterned narrative dedicates two spreads to each animal: the first is a variety of iterations, and the second is a single, iconic activity. On one spread, for example, the speaker asks, If you were a fish, would you be a / sea-sparkler, ocean swimming, / coral-peeker, / wave-jumping, / flash-of-color, / toe-nibbler, / faster-than-the-big-fish sort of fish? On the following spread, the text reads, Would you splash in the surf? / SWISH, SWISH, SWISH! / Some fish do. Raschka divides the busier pages into quadrants, populating each with a variety of images rendered in free-spirited, jewel-toned paintings, with simpler images filling the alternating spreads. The final stanza reveals our imaginer to be a child, happily pretending. The careful structure of the narrative combines with the freedom of the language and imagery in a spirited outing that invites children to GIGGLE, GIGGLE, GIGGLE! / Like a kid! --Barthelmess, Thom Copyright 2010 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Being a dog is only one of the options in this exercise, which invites children to imagine life as all kinds of animals (including, at the end, dinosaurs). "If you were a dog, would you be a speedy-quick, lickety-sloppidy, scavenge-the-garbage, frisbee-catching, hot-dog-stealing, pillow-hogging, best-friend-ever sort of dog?" asks Swenson (Boom! Boom! Boom!). In lucid earth-tone and blue-green gouache panels, Raschka (A Ball for Daisy) pictures the active animals conjured by Swenson's compound adjectives, nouns, and verbs. A cat is "sandpaper-licking, purr-purr-purr-purring, furry-stretching," a fish might be a "coral-peeker" or "toe-nibbler," and the set of bugs includes a bee "flower-keeper" and a "water-gliding-skimmer." Story-time speakers may find themselves taking a nonlinear approach, backing up and repeating the queries to let listeners consider different actions and personalities. Swenson's playful language and Raschka's amiable cartoons lend a welcome unpredictability to this animal game. Ages 3-6. Author's agent: Sean McCarthy, Sean McCarthy Literary Agency. Illustrator's agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 2-This book's cover art, depicting a child thinking about a dog, is indicative of this playful journey through the animal world. Swenson asks readers to imagine themselves as several different animals, including a dinosaur, a bug, and a bird, and decide how that creature's qualities would appeal to them. For instance, would the child like to be a "sea-sparkler; ocean-swimming, coral-peeker;/wave-jumping,/flash-of-color; toe-nibbler,/faster-than-the-big-fish sort of fish?" After this fun list of descriptive words, Swenson comes back to another specific quality of that animal: "Would you splash in the surf? Some fish do." These lists help emphasize the diversity of species and the many ways these animals engage with their environment. The text has a rhyming, sing-song quality that makes it a great match for preschool storytimes. Raschka brings movement, energy, and personality to his vibrantly colored art. With just a few strokes, he makes a hissing cat puff up in anger at a nearby dog, ferocious and threatening. Readers can act out the characteristics of that cat or fish as the story is read. However, this could also be used in a classroom, both as a model for creative writing or as a beginning point for expanded study on a given species. A fun way to get readers to use their imaginations in the natural world.-Susan E. Murray, formerly at Glendale Public Library, AZ (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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