Working Dogs

May 1, 2014 by     3 Comments    Posted under: Book Picks

These books explore jobs that dogs can do with a great deal of training, a little bit of luck, or even just a good heart. If you have a little animal lover in your family, they will adore these read alouds

Lola Goes to Work: A Nine-to-Five Therapy Dog  by Marcia Goldman;

Rosie, A Visiting Dog’s Story  by Stephanie Calmenson, photographs by Justin Sutcliffe


Visiting dogs, also known as therapy dogs, spend time with new friends who aren’t feeling well, or who need companionship in hospitals, schools and nursing homes. Lola Goes to Work is a charming confection of a book about a small Yorkshire Terrier, whose work is to make you smile and is quite good at it. The end papers are sprinkled with cute sketches of pups in action, and photos with a single sentence on each page makes this a terrific choice for toddlers.

Rosie is a Tibetan Terrier, and her book goes into a great deal more detail about what it takes to become a visiting dog. Rosie helps people when she goes to visit, by giving hugs and kisses, letting them brush and groom her, taking naps with friends, and playing ball games. The text is for older preschoolers and early elementary ages, and the delightful relationships in both books make these excellent choices for children’s non-fiction texts.


Meet the Dogs of Bedlam Farm  by Jon Katz

All the dogs of Bedlam Farm have jobs to do. There’s Rose who loves herding sheep, Izzy who visits the sick, Frieda who protects the farm (when she’s not frightening its smaller inhabitants), or carefree Lenore who works in a less direct, however, most important way. Katz’s photographs of his farm, taken at various times of year, nicely come together to tell the story of this unlikely group of canines who become a family through work and play.


The Adventures of Taxi Dog  by Debra and Sal Barracca, pictures by Mark Buehner

Rhyming verses bound and caper like a friendly dog, as the Barraccas tell the tale of Maxie, who rides in a taxi around New York City all day. Artist Mark Buehner captures the ebb and flow of city life, and a doggie’s perspective on his unique job. The delight of this book is found in the loving relationship between owner and pet, undeniable soul mates who spend each day sharing work that they love.


Jake the Philharmonic Dog  by Karen LeFrak, illustrations by Marcin Baranski

Stagehand Richie finds a dog who responds to music, and so he takes Jake the dog to rehearsals at the Philharmonic Orchestra. Although the flutes remind him of birds and the drum rolls sound like thunder, when the strings sing their soaring melodies, Jake feels right at home. It isn’t until the conductor appears that Jake finds his true calling as the principal “stagepaw.” Children will appreciate Jake’s startling response to loud noises, and will enjoy the drama of his entrance into the world of the orchestra.


Extraordinary Jane  by Hannah E. Harrison

This lovely ode to the ordinary is Ms. Harrison’s first picture book, and I hope it will be the first of many. (She’s a former student of Kevin Hawkes) Jane is a circus dog. Well…at least her family is full of circus dogs. Jane can’t seem to discover where she fits in – she’s not graceful, strong, brave or fearless like her other family members, and all her efforts at circus jobs don’t seem to work out. Whatever Jane is…being a loving friend makes her a really good dog, and that is enough. A great message for ordinary kids who don’t have super, extraordinary skills.



3 Comments + Add Comment

  • Thank you so much for sharing EXTRAORDINARY JANE! But I just thought I should clarify one thing…my internship was with KEVIN HAWKES (not Kevin Henkes–although that would have been great, too!). I’ve actually co-illustrated a book with Kevin Hawkes that is due out this September. It’s called REMY AND LULU, and also features a dog! But again, thank you for sharing.

    • My mistake, I’ve made the correction. Looking forward to another one. I really loved Extraordinary Jane! Your perspectives on the pictures were priceless, and the characters were completely charming! I hope it does extraordinarily well.

  • Thanks, Emily!

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