Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Book Review: The First Dog (Paleowolf, cave boy)

The First Dog, written and illustrated by Jan Brett (Putnam Penguin, 1988, 32 pages, $17.99, ages 4-7)

First Dog

No, not that first dog - not the Obama’s First Dog - but the real first dog that lived thousands of years ago.

A topic that has been discussed nearly ad infinitum these past few years concerns just how long ago it was that a dog left his feral state and became man’s best friend – perhaps 15,000 years ago is today’s best guess but it probably was sometime between 12,000 and 35,000 years ago.

The Good Book

Jan Brett actually posed a hypothetical yet believable scenario back in the 1980s in a children’s book called The First Dog.

I don’t know what I like best: the lovely illustrations by the author or the fact that each page is bordered by line drawings of intricate conversation-starters corresponding to the story words on each page.

On the other hand, facts are snuck in very unobtrusively – facts about dogs and about the mammals living in the Pleistocene. Although none were dinosaurs, your child will love their names and love the cave drawings  and love the animal skin clothing and bone and shell ornaments and spears and knives and . . . .

One Possible Origin

Kip, a Pleistocene cave boy, is out and about. When he eats his roasted Woolly Rhino rib for lunch, a Paleowolf approaches hoping for a handout but then quickly disappears, causing Kip to look around for the reason. Spying.the dangerous animal, Kip escapes just in the nick of time.

This happens again and again – Paleowolf hanging around for leftovers and seeming to warn Kip of dangerous Saber-toothed tigers and other wild beasties, first with his astute nose, then with his keen eyes, and finally with his superb sense of hearing:

     "Paleowolf. . . with his keen nose. . . could smell 

        a rain cloud across the valley, 
        the track of a tiny toad,
        the pelt of a prying pachyderm."

The Deal

Kip makes Paleowolf a deal: if the animal will warn him of danger, Kip will share his meals.

And so, with a woof and a wag, Dog was born to become Man’s Best Friend.

After all, Dog means One Who Wags His Tail, right?

Tomorrow: Jan Brett's Trouble with Trolls (with a dog, of course)

Caveat: DogEvals purchases items for review unless otherwise noted. This book was borrowed from the public library.

No comments:

Post a Comment