A FEW OTHER EVENTS FOR
NOVEMBER 6:

  • Mary Ann Evans, pen name George Eliot, submits her first work, Scenes of Clerical Life, for publication in 1856.
  • In 1923, the USSR experiments with a five-day weeks. Read A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever by Marla Frazee and Someday is Not a Day of the Week by Denise Brennan-Nelson.
  • On Saxophone Day, read Saxophone Sam and His Snazzy Jazz Band by Christine Schneider and Charlie Parker played Be Bop by Chris Raschka.
  • It’s Marooned Without a Compass Day. Read Marooned: The Strange but True Adventures of Alexander Selkirk by Robert Kraske and The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman.

November has been designated Adopt a Senior Pet Month. Most families want to find a puppy or kitten when they chose a pet, but there are so many benefits in bringing a more mature animal into the house. My own senior pet, a Bernese mountain dog named Lady, turns twelve this month. Two years ago an attack of bloat left her with heart problems; since then digestive, leg, and eye problems have been added to the mix. But her dignity in dealing with old age inspires me daily. I love having a mature pet as a companion.

Consequently, I am the perfect reader for our book of the day: Elisha Cooper’s Homer. Cooper, who presented a beguiling and inspiring look at rural life in Farm, takes on the subject of a senior pet, a dog. The first picture shows Homer recumbent on the porch with a text easy enough for a preschool reader: “Homer sits on the porch. What does he want to do today?” Other dogs chase around the yard, but he declines to do so. Family member after family member comes and invites him for activity. But he stays on the porch. Finally, everyone returns with news of their adventures, and Homer listens and enjoys their stories. “Do you need anything?” the father asks. But Homer has everything he wants. In a sequence of panels he shuffles into the house, eats some food, and climbs into his favorite chair.  The last words belong to this contented dog, “I have you.”

I consider this the best three-handkerchief book I have read recently. Anyone who has ever loved a senior pet will identify with this story. It is rare to find a successful picture book where the protagonist observes rather than participates in activity. Yet in the watercolor and pencil art, Homer looms as the focal point of each piece. In these gentle drawings Cooper doesn’t shout or yell.  He whispers causes the reader to calm down to hear him. I am so grateful we have contemporary creators like Elisa Cooper. He isn’t afraid to be quiet or to use white space in the art where the eyes can simply rest. He reminds us to take pleasure in the simple things of life, such as an old dog’s enjoyment of each day.

Now I must go back to my senior pet. I have her—and she has me—for this moment. We have everything we need.

Here’s a page from Homer:

 

 

 

Homer sits on the porch.

What does he want to do today?

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Originally posted November 6, 2012. Updated for .

Tags: Animals, Dogs, Family
Instructional materials from TeachingBooks.net for Homer
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COMMENTS

  1. Judith Plum says:

    The Mr. Putter and Tabby series by Cynthia Rylant is a perfect match for Adopt a Senior Pet. Although the characters in these books are an elderly man and the elderly cat he has adopted, the books are beloved by my 8 year-old reading students.

  2. Anita says:

    Judith: Thanks for the suggestion. Eric Rohmann’s Bone Dog also a wonderful selection for this topic.

  3. Peggy says:

    In The Dog Who Belonged to No One by Amy Hest a lonely stray is taken in by a family with a lonely daughter. And whereas he doesn’t look all that aged, it’s also a great book for Adopt a Senior Pet Month.

  4. I am so glad to know about this book, Anita. It just seems filled with heart and caring. Thanks for sharing.

  5. G. Perry says:

    This sounds like a truly wonderful book, and I can see I’m going to love the art just from these two images. In fact, I’m taking a class hoping to begin to draw just like Elisha some day.

    But I don’t want to lose a friend, just as I’ve made one.

    Maybe I’ll just look at the art, and give Homer a big internet hug for now.

  6. Anita says:

    Gordon: Homer is still looking strong, a year later.

    My own Lady died two months after I wrote this tribute to her. I still miss her every day.

  7. G. Perry says:

    After Anita’s comment, I decided to go ahead and look at Homer.

    Well, goo thing I did because I’m in love with this book! it’s so beautiful in form both viewing and reading. If there were an award for loving-kindness in publications, this would be a winner. And how many people could use loving-kindness in their lives. Children and adults.

    And if someone were to ask me, what children’s art I like most of all the children’s books I’ve read, I’d point to this book, and say “For me, THIS is artistic perfection!”

    I love the story. It brings a warm sea breeze over my heart of hearts, and makes my soul smile, and it lingers on long and long.

    And the art! Oh my.

    I’m going to buy this. No. I’m going to buy several copies of it, so I can give all but one copy away.

    Thank you Lady Anita…

  8. Anita says:

    Gordon: So glad you picked this up. Pretty close to perfection in my book. Even seeing the cover makes me smile.

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