1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up discussion

Monthly Book Club > July 2017 - Good Dog, Carl

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message 1: by Manybooks, Active moderator (last edited Jun 25, 2017 09:28AM) (new)

Manybooks | 181 comments Mod
The picture book reading choice for July is Alaxandra Day's first instalment of her Carl The Rottweiler series, Good Dog, Carl. Nearly wordless, and actually rather controversial at times, this is a fun romp, although personally, many of the later books about Carl and Madeleine I find more evocative, realistic and increasingly entertaining.

Again, no spoiler tags are necessary, but considering that Good Dog, Carl is not without controversy (as there have been moves over the years to have the book banned because it for one shows a Rottweiler that is friendly and cuddly and secondly shows a baby that is left alone with said Rottweiler as basically its babysitter), please do respect differences of opinion and that some people like and enjoy this book whilst others absolutely despise it (although personally, I absolutely will admit and stand by my attitude that I have precious little tolerance for those who have wanted to have Good Dog, Carl censored or banned, as banning and censoring books is profoundly and dangerously dictatorial, and that while individuals do have the right to monitor and censor their own children's reading choices, they do not and should not have the right to impose their attitudes and the like on others and unilaterally).

message 2: by Manybooks, Active moderator (last edited Jul 12, 2017 07:05AM) (new)

Manybooks | 181 comments Mod
Good Dog, Carl

After simply adoring some of the later books in Alexandra Day's Carl the Rottweiler series, I have to admit that I was and still remain more than a bit underwhelmed by the first book of the series, by Good Dog, Carl. I think that in general, it is a sweet (albeit for some parents, perhaps also a touch unnerving) story, full of fun, whimsy and mischief. However, neither Alexandra Day's narrative nor her accompanying illustrations have managed to completely charm me like I have been "wowed" by Carl's Summer Vacation) and Carl's Snowy Afternoon. The illustrations in both of these later books are truly magical. They are wonderfully bold and really, truly capture the cuteness, fun, and typical characteristics of a Rottweiler, whereas the illustrations in Good Dog, Carl seem (at least to and for me) a bit bland and washed-out in comparison. They are well-executed, and both humorous and sweet, but lack the whimsy and colourful expressiveness displayed in the illustrations of many of the later Carl the Rottweiler books.

I also tend to find the stories (the plot lines) in the later books a bit more appealing and interesting (and realistic). That is not to say that I did not truly enjoy "reading" about Carl and Madeleine's escapades in Good Dog, Carl. I have no moral or philosophical problems with the fact that the mother lets the family Rottweiler babysit Madeleine, and it always amazes me that there are actually unenlightened individuals who not only vehemently despise Good Dog, Carl, but actually think that it is dangerous and should be censored and even removed from library shelves (one patron at our local library recently left a comment requesting that this supposedly dangerous book be removed). Honestly, Good Dog, Carl is a fantastical and fun children's picture book, and if any parents think or believe that leaving a baby alone in the care of a dog is correct parenting (and would even remotely consider imitating this), they have major pre-existing issues that have not been caused by the book.

However, I guess it is to a certain extent the fantastical elements in Good Dog, Carl that have made me enjoy it rather less than some of the later Carl the Rottweiler books I have read and adored. Many of Carl's and Madeleine's escapades in Carl's Summer Vacation, Carl's Snowy Afternoon and even Carl's Birthday are quite close to reality; they portray actions, interactions, games etc. that children and Rottweilers (or dogs in general) do engage in and often engage in together (sliding down a slide, fetching a baseball, the dog pulling a sled). One of the reasons I love these above mentioned three books so much was/is because of the nostalgia, of seeing illustrations of a Rottweiler that could so easily have been the Rottweiler(s) my family owned when my siblings and I were younger. The story depicted in Good Dog, Carl however, did not create (and does not create) the same sense of nostalgia in me, as none of our Rottweilers would ever have let us swim in a fish tank, nor would they have known how to give us a bath and dry us with a hairdryer (and thankfully so).

I would still definitely recommend this charming wordless (or rather, nearly wordless) picture book to anyone who likes dogs (both adults and children). But if you are going to read Good Dog, Carl, you should really also take the time to read and enjoy some of the later Carl the Rottweiler instalments (as both the stories and the illustrations do much improve as series progresses).

message 3: by Karen (new)

Karen Hoehne | 17 comments I used the Carl books for many years with my non-reader students. They loved Carl and were fascinated with his and the baby's adventures. The books are richly illustrated and provide a lot of detail. I often found students "reading" these books together and poring over the pictures.

message 4: by Manybooks, Active moderator (last edited Aug 02, 2017 05:08PM) (new)

Manybooks | 181 comments Mod
Karen wrote: "I used the Carl books for many years with my non-reader students. They loved Carl and were fascinated with his and the baby's adventures. The books are richly illustrated and provide a lot of detai..."

Yes, the Carl books, like many wordless or nearly wordless picture books, are a wonderful language teaching and learning tool. I have used them with elementary and low intermediate German language college students to compose descriptive stories (and I have also made up my own stories and then had students either translate the same into English or make the story as appearing in the past tense, by changing the verbs to the past, to the present perfect).

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