This is a full and thoughtful book review of the book Good Dog Carl. Thank you Lindsay for going through this book with such detail and bringing out all the great aspects of this minimally worded book.
- TITLE: Good Dog Carl
- WRITTEN & ILLUSTRATED BY: Alexandra Day
- PAGES: 34
- Available on Amazon, here.
This book was a perfect gift when my son was born because we have a beloved Rottweiler named Stella. The first word of both of my children was dog, not momma or even dada, but DOG. Literally as soon as they could talk, they wanted to talk about dogs, so this book has been very loved in our household. We actually have two copies now. The first was so cherished that when my daughter was born 4 years later we had to buy a new one for her. It’s a board book and well constructed, but did not hold up to 4 years of love (or abuse depending on how you look at it). The illustrations are well done and realistic; with very little text they do the storytelling.
Super Speedy Summary
This is a book with very few words, twelve to be exact. The only two pages with words on them are the first page and the last page. On the first page, the mom says, “Look after the baby, Carl. I’ll be back shortly.” Mom then leaves and mischief commences between Carl and the baby. Carl helps the baby escape from its crib, they proceed to jump on mom’s bed and then get into mom’s makeup and jewelry. After that the baby slides down the laundry chute and goes swimming in the fish tank. A dance party breaks out in the living room after which the baby and Carl eat some snacks making a huge mess in the kitchen. At 4 o’clock, Carl takes the baby up for a bath and puts him back in the crib. Carl then cleans up all their messes. Mom comes home to a clean house and baby resting in the crib and says, “Good dog ,Carl!”
Honestly, the first time I looked at this book, I was a little horrified. What kind of parent, in their right mind, would leave a baby home with a dog as a babysitter? Once I got over the initial shock (and removed the stick from my butt), I saw how much my kids lit up at the funny antics between baby and Carl. This book has really grown on me.
From an educational standpoint, a book with few words is a really good thing for a child who cannot yet read. Sharing wordless books is a terrific way to build important literacy skills, including listening skills, vocabulary, comprehension and an increased awareness of how stories are structured. They can have the experience of “reading” before they have developed the skill. At age 4, my daughter will proudly tell me the story of Good Dog Carl just by looking at the pictures. Also because there are no words, it opens up a lot more discussion than books that may have a lot of words. On each page, I get to ask her questions instead of simply reading the text. This then leads to more questions. Reading experts will tell you to do this for any book, but let’s be honest, after I’ve read a whole page of text, I’m ready to move on (especially at bedtime!). Since this book has no text, I’m much more willing to linger on each page and ask multiple questions.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words and that is true with this book. Once kids have “read” it a couple times they start making up stories about what the characters are feeling and other details about the story. There is one scene where Carl and the baby are having a dance party. I like to ask the Ember, “What song do you think they are dancing to?” At the beginning, when Mom leaves, I like to ask her, “Where do you think Mom is going?” The answers she comes up with are always amusing to me. Mom is always going somewhere that I’ve been recently 😉
Storytelling is a great skill to develop and this book gives kids that opportunity before they can read. It gives their creativity a boost. On each page Carl and baby are having a new, unexpected adventure, which makes the story really fun. Even if you don’t have a love of the Rottweiler like we do, I’d still highly recommend this book for it’s early literacy building potential.
About the Reviewer
Lindsay is a wife, homeschool mom and author (in that order). She likes to call herself the CEO- chief empowerment officer because she empowers her husband and children to live out their dreams while she does the same. Lindsay co-wrote The Miracle Morning for Parents and Families with her husband, Mike, and their friend, Hal Elrod and blogs (when time allows) at Grateful Parent. Lindsay grew up in Pennsylvania, where she still lives with her supportive husband and two amazing children, Tyler and Ember. She was a division 1 field hockey player at James Madison University and loves to travel. One of her favorite travel experiences was hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro while four months pregnant with Tyler.
I definitely shared Lindsay’s initial horror about a parent leaving their child alone with a dog (yikes!) but once I remembered the lighthearted nature of most children’s books, it was a little easier to swallow that. I agree that there is immense value in children’s books that contain little to no words, they allow for deep conversation between parent and child about what is happening within the pictures and every time the story can be different. What’s really fun is analyzing how we infuse our unique perspectives and opinions about the world into the story that is being told – how might this book be different when mom reads it compared to when dad reads it?
I have always been intrigued by books like this – that require the reader to be imaginative about what the story is based solely on the pictures. It also relates to books in languages you don’t know. When we lived in Japan we bought lots of books in Japanese, even though we don’t speak or read it! In this way, we are able to make up stories about what’s happening in the book as if there were no words.
Silliness – Practicing Storytelling
I will say though that this book probably won’t make it into OUR collection because we’re not really a “dog” family – we may become one someday, but for now, we don’t really connect with the sentiment of the story. I do, however, think this is a great book if your family is a “dog family”.
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