________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 2. . . .September 15, 2017


The Dog.

Helen Mixter. Illustrated by Margarita Sada.
Vancouver, BC: Greystone Books, November, 2017.
32 pp., hardcover & Ebook, $21.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-77164-271-2 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-77164-272-9 (Ebook).

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 4-6.

Review by Bev Brenna.

**½ /4

Reviewed from F&Gs.



When she saw me,
for the first time,
she wagged her tail.

When I felt shy she sat
right next to me.

When I couldn’t sleep
I could hear her breathing.


So begin the first few pages of Helen Mixter’s picture book The Dog about the relationship between a little boy who is ill and his canine companion. The book is vividly illustrated by Margarita Sada, and partial proceeds from sales will benefit Canuck Place Children’s Hospice.

internal art     The audience for this title is somewhat unfocussed. Its publicity materials indicate that, while it “is a story for young children, and for anyone who has ever owned a pet…But most of all, it shows how important animal companionship is for children.” The problem of focus translates into a text that isn’t fully realized as a story for either children or adults. Lacking tension and missing opportunities to take readers beyond what is on the page, the text results in a series of statements that don’t quite pack the emotional punch necessary to convey the reality of this situation—a boy struggling with serious illness for whom a dog becomes essential. Perhaps if the story had begun with some misgivings on the boy’s part and through calm dedication the dog had earned his place in the boy’s heart, readers young and old would be served somewhat better.

internal art     Nevertheless, this gentle, repetitive text will facilitate emergent reading, and children in similar situations to this young man might find themselves supported towards healthy personal response.


Bev Brenna is the award winning author of numerous books for young people including The White Bicycle, third in a trilogy about a character with ASD and shortlisted for a 2013 Governor General’s Literary Award.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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