My little girl is frightened by many things. Dogs ranked right up there at the top of her list. Well, most all animals actually! Every Halloween I ended up carrying her as people are out with their dogs walking around the neighborhood. It saddens me that, although we have always had our Maine Coon cat since before she was born, she has never once held him. Children with autism are overly sensitive to touch and sounds, and dogs make a lot of noise and will jump unexpectedly or lick. So when I saw the title of this book, “Not Afraid of Dogs,” I knew that it would be perfect!
Right away, my daughter identified with the little boy in the story; the pictures show him hiding from dogs and even climbing a lamppost to get away from them. Daniel tells readers that he is very brave and is not afraid of many things. His sister speaks up and says, “except dogs!” He explains that he is not afraid of dogs, he just doesn’t like them! We learn that he avoids dogs any way possible, even leaving the park if he sees one. But then one day he comes home to find a dog in his house! His aunt had went out of town and needed them to pet sit. It is a very cute small brown and white dog. His sister calls him a fraidy cat. My daughter yelled at the girl in the book for doing that! He goes to his room and refuses even to come out for supper. Daniel needs to go to the bathroom that night while a thunderstorm has started outside, but where is the dog? He peeks out and doesn’t see the dog; he makes a run for the bathroom to find … the dog!
The dog is whining loudly and hiding behind the toilet. Daniel is so scared that he can’t move until the dog runs and hides behind his legs. This makes Daniel jump in the tub. The dog tries to follow but is too little. They look at each other with the dog still whining as he is afraid of the storm. Daniel realizes that the dog is afraid and reaches out a finger. The dog is friendly and Daniel climbs out of the tub to hold the dog and calm her down. He had never held a dog before. They slept together that night, both not afraid anymore.
I enjoyed that the author had the dog be afraid too and that is what brings the boy and dog together. A common element! My daughter was very angry at the boy’s sister for calling him names. She really related to him! I can’t say this book is going to bring her any closer to holding a dog or even our cat, but she did say awww at the sleeping puppy curled up with Daniel. Did she pet a cat or dog after reading this book? No, she still insisted we cross the road when we saw a dog or climbed up my legs, so I held her away from the dog walking by.
This 29-page book has one to seven lines per page except a couple have no words at all. Every page has full page color illustrations showing many pictures of the boy avoiding dogs at all costs. These are very detailed watercolors with the boy’s frightened, anxious facial expressions showing a world of emotion! Recommended for ages four and up.
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