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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
No Dog in My Yard, written by Tricia DellAnno and illustrated Jim Pearson, is a children's picture book about a child whose greatest desire is to have a dog. The book begins with a young boy taking stock of his neighborhood and the number of dogs that live in it; nine in total, and not a single one is his. He begs his parents and implements his 'plan A': to introduce them to dogs he thinks they might like. This appears to further convince them they are not a 'dog family' and are firm in conveying this to their son. Plan B for the boy involves elevating his responsibility game by saving money, working harder around the house, improving his grades at school, and proving his ability to care for a dog by walking neighborhood dogs and picking up their poop. The parents are impressed and surprise him with Millie, the puppy he has so longed for.
As a parent it is extremely difficult to make a child understand that bringing a pet into the home is a massive responsibility. This goes beyond walks and poop and tearing up pillows. It is usually a costly, decades-long commitment to an actual new member of the family. The dog's health and the practicalities of space, who takes care of them when the human family is on vacation, and whether there is enough energy to give an animal the life they deserve. I loved that No Dog in My Yard was not just about a child getting a puppy and parents being portrayed as ambivalent. Tricia DellAnno writes in child-friendly lyrical prose and describes changes made by the child over time, which are sustained and beyond a point where another child might start to slacken, ease up, or get bored. The transition from no dog to dog is measured and DellAnno is brilliant in describing how it unfolds. The artwork is spectacular. Jim Pearson breathes life into the family, their home, and their neighborhood in a palette of primary colors that are beautifully subdued, depicting the changing of seasons through sketch and original illustrations. Overall, this is a wonderful children's book and a welcome addition to our bedtime rotation.