Happy new year, picture book lovers!
I wanted to start the year on a cheerful note. So here you go. A book that made me laugh out loud I don’t know how many times.
I was first attracted to Ragweed’s Farm Dog Handbook, written and illustrated by Anne Vittur Kennedy, because a) I live on a farm, and b) we have a quirky, smart dog – Brodie – who believes his one job in life is to protect Mom. That’s me.
But regardless of where you live (or how you feel about dogs), Ragweed, with his believable and oh-so-endearing voice, will capture your heart. Check out the first page, on which he introduces himself (not-so-sharp photos taken by me, the not-so-sharp photographer).
Can’t you just hear the hurried, panting quality in those short, declarative sentences? Very doggy. The way the text is spaced on the page aids in the reading, too. Each spread that follows this opener reveals the job of a different farm animal, with Ragweed reiterating each time that that job belongs to that animal, and no matter how much you may want to do it, that job isn’t your job. Well, here. Look. Ragweed says it better than I do.
“Next, you need to know about pigs. Pigs lie in the mud all day and get bigger and BIGGER. That’s their job. That’s not your job. Don’t lie in the mud. Mud is lovely. It smells like worms and toes and earwax, so you will really, really want to lie in the mud. But don’t lie in the mud.”
Aren’t these color-saturated, loosey-goosey illustrations fantabulous?! Each animal actually gets two spreads, one to tell the reader what that animal’s job is, and a second to show the reader what happens if you, the dog, slip up. Which Ragweed does. Every time. As with the sheep he warns readers are not to be chased.
So what is Ragweed’s job? It’s pretty much one thing. But, sorry. I hate spoilers. If you haven’t seen this one yet, run like a sheep to find a copy. You’ll be glad you did!