Ragweed’s Farm Dog Handbook (Learn from the best!)

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!


Jill Esbaum

Jill Esbaum is the author of many picture books. Her latest is How to Grow a Dinosaur. Other recent titles are Frankenbunny, If a T. Rex Crashes Your Birthday Party, Elwood Bigfoot– Wanted: Birdie Friends!, Teeny Tiny Toady, and I Am Cow, Hear Me Moo! Learn more at http://jillesbaum.com.


  1. I flat out love this book!!! It is hilarious. Thanks for posting it.

  2. LOVE this book. SO funny. I wish I’d written it. 🙂

  3. Susanna Leonard Hill recommended this book to her readers as well, and you are both SO right – it is hysterical! And great, unique dog voice. I love it!

  4. Can’t wait to read this one! Sounds fun!

  5. This looks really fun, Jill. Can’t wait to check it out!

  6. Going to get it and read it today! A great way to start off the new year!

  7. Thanks for starting the year on such a giggly note!

  8. Great way to start the New Year!

    • We weren’t actually supposed to start posting again until next Tuesday. Oops. Guess I just couldn’t stand not sharing this book with all of you. 😉

  9. It is one of the best picture books I read this year. My grandkids (who will tell you they are far too old for picture books) loved it as well. We read it aloud in the car and laughed ourselves silly. Great to see the word being spread about this one. Thanks for the post.

    • YES! I can imagine it seducing “too old for pic book” kiddos, Rosi. Ragweed is such a lovable goof. And the illustrations reinforce the wackiness!

  10. Can’t wait to read this — Thanks for the fun anticipation!

  11. This looks like a really fun book – it’s the first on my “To Buy” list for 2016.

  12. My granddaughter and I read this JUST last week and had so much fun with it. I have a Jack Russell that looks just like Ragweed and all of his traits are so identical. Love this book.

  13. Oh, man! This looks like a riot! And look at those illustrations!!

  14. Wonderful! It’s on my list to read now. Thanks.

  15. I had not heard of this book, which looks absolutely delightful. I will have to find it. Soon. Thanks, Jill. This is another wonderful review.

  16. Thanks for starting the year out with this one, Jill! One of my absolute 2015 favorites. Hysterical and brilliant. I think it’s a great example of voice, too.

  17. That looks like a hilarious book, and I grew up in Iowa!
    Thanks for sharing!

  18. Thanks for stopping by, Tina, fellow Iowan!

  19. Thanks Jill! I can’t wait to read it; its on order.

  20. Anne Vittur Kennedy

    Well, Jill, you have certainly given me a happy start to my year! I am the author illustrator of this one! I am so grateful for your review and your enthusiastic sharing. I loved working on it, and I’m so tickled when people, especially dog folk, “get” it. You obviously appreciate the brilliance of dog logic! Biscuits to you and your readers!

    • Glad you found us, Anne! My phone pics do not do your illustrations justice, but I hope they’re tantalizing enough to get everybody to run out and find your book. It’s marvelous! And yes, I have a dog who’d do anything for a biscuit. Even the bookmobile driver who swings by our farm every other weeks has treats for him. He thinks that’s why they come.

  21. Anne Vittur Kennedy

    Well of course! That makes perfect dog sense!

  22. So funny! Thanks, Jill, can’t wait to read it!

  23. Looks hilarious! Added to my Must Read list.

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