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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Central Library J PIC BOOK Juvenile Fiction Childrens Area-Picture Books
Audubon Library J PIC BOOK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
Boston Free Library J PIC BOOK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
Crane Branch Library J PIC BOOK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
East Aurora Library J PIC BOOK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
Grand Island Library J PIC BOOK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
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Lake Shore Library J PIC BOOK Juvenile Fiction New Materials
North Park Branch Library J PIC BOOK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
Newstead Library J PIC BOOK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
Orchard Park Library J PIC BOOK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
Julia Boyer Reinstein Library J PIC BOOK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

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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 from author Jamie A. Swenson 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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