Monday, September 23, 2013

David and Dog by Shirley Hughes

 David and Dog by Shirley Hughes

Rating: 5 sweet stars

I have a well loved, chewed up copy of this book tucked away on a high shelf in our library, away from the curious fingers of my trio.  My ten year old full name is written out in careful cursive on the first page. I usually share well, but this is one of my very favorite books from my own childhood, and my flimsy paperback copy needs to be seriously reinforced.

This is a simple little story of a well loved, probably chewed on stuffed animal named Dog.  It's David that loves him, takes him everywhere with him, and constantly holds him.  Until the one day when David drops Dog.  His big sister offers him one of her many teddies, but...sleep is just not the same without Dog.

The next day is the school Summer Fair.  (The illustration immediately takes me back to the fundraiser of a fair at one of our many Catholic schools, Sacred Heart School in Savannah, Georgia.) Tables are set up with different sorts of games and activities, all in the hopes to make you part with your nickels and quarters that will go towards the school.

On one such table are a bunch of old toys, being sold yard sale-style.  It's there that David finds Dog--with a sign on him labeled 5 cents!  While he rushes to find his mother to get the nickel and buy back dog, a not-so-nice little girl buys him and does not want to part with him.  David returns not with his mother but with big sister Bella, who is toting an enormous teddy she's won from a raffle.  The girl doesn't want to part with Dog...until she sees that teddy.

"Then Bella did something very kind."  (I must have read that sentence a million times.)  Bella generously offers a swap of stuffed animals, and the girl and David are enormously pleased with her good deed.  Brother and sister go home happily, where sleep is made much happier with Dog in bed.

That's it.  Nothing more to it.

I don't know what struck me as so wonderful about this book when I was a kid.  The sentence of kindness was my favorite, and I am sure I was impressed with Bella's willingness to sacrifice her prize for her brother's happiness.  But as I read it today, I still smile at her kindness and still hope that my kids treat each other as well as David and Bella treat each other.  At least most days.

P.S.  This book is now called Dogger.  Not sure why, but the title changed a few decades ago; both versions of the book are way out of print.  I think that means I'm officially old!

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