• It’s the birth date of Thornton W. Burgess (1874–1965), Mother West Wind’s Neighbors, Hugh Lofting (1886–1947) Doctor Dolittle, and Hendrik Willem van Loon (1882–1944) The Story of Mankind.
  • The Human Be-In, takes place in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park in 1967, the prelude to “the Summer of Love.” Read The Young Oxford Book of the Human Being by David Glover.
  • In 1972, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark ascends the throne, the first Queen of Denmark since 1412 and the first Danish monarch not named Frederick or Christian since 1513.

Today we celebrate National Dress Up Your Pet Day. But not my dog Lancelot. Like many Bernese Mountain Dogs, he possesses an incredible sense of dignity. The only item he has ever allowed added to be added to his already regal appearance is a jingle-bell collar at Christmas.

For all who are thinking about dressing up your pet, I instead recommend the new book by David Ezra Stein, I’m My Own Dog. Creator of the incredibly funny Interrupting Chicken, Stein brings his wacky perspective and sprightly art to a story about man’s best friend. Readers meet the protagonist right away on the cover, standing proud against a fire hydrant. There is no question about who the dominant figure of this book will be, for a small human moves at the back of the landscape.

On the first line of text this canine proudly exclaims “I’m my own dog. Nobody owns me. I own myself.” This pooch is so proud that he will not sit on cue even if someone offers a bone. But all proud heroes have a tragic weakness, and in the case of our protagonist, an itch that he cannot scratch causes him to take a person home with him. Readers will watch with delight as a bond forms between an independent dog and the human whom he has adopted. And with one of those perfect picture book endings, the dog tells us “Between you and me, I’m his best friend.”

Like picture book creators William Steig and James Marshall, David Ezra Stein knows how to craft a book that will make readers demand a return visit. Because of the attention paid to design, the book also delights the senses. The publisher provides information on the typeface, Proquita Pro, and method of art creation, adding to our understanding of the book as a physical object. A solid square trim size, red endpapers that carry forward the fire hydrant theme, and a heavy matte-coated paper add to the joy of picking up this book again and again.

A totally satisfying book, in terms of text, art, and design, I’m My Own Dog belongs in the collection of pet lovers everywhere. Secretly, we all know that they own us, rather than the other way around. I am just grateful that David Ezra Stein can make a picture book that works as a unified and pleasing whole. That is something truly worth celebrating on Dress Up Your Pet Day.

Here’s a page from I’m My Own Dog:

I'm My Own Dog


Originally posted January 14, 2015. Updated for .

Tags: Animals, Dogs, Humor
Instructional materials from TeachingBooks.net for I’m My Own Dog


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