Book Review: Doggy Ditties from A to Z, by Jo van Dam, illustrated by Myles Lawford

This book is available in bookstores nationwide.doggy_ditties_from_a_to_z

This book was a huge hit with my class of five year olds.  It has the key ingredients for success – lovely big illustrations, lots of language play, and lots and lots of dogs!

A breed of dog is introduced for each letter – from Affenpinscher to Zuchon – with a “ditty” to describe the traits of the dog. The ditties come in a variety of styles, from limericks to rhyming couplets, and a variety of rhyme schemes. The variations add interest, and are make the book perfect for dipping into to read a few poems here and there.

The illustrations are good humoured and fun, and Lawford captures the “personalities” of the dogs van Dam is describing beautifully.  My class were excited when they could identify with the letters, giving lots of other examples of words that start with “n”, for example. They were laughing out loud at some of the scrapes the dogs got into (using the word nude is always going to send five year olds into fits of giggles, let’s be honest!), and we all learned about breeds of dog that were new to us.

When my daughter was still of an age to want bed time stories, we used to have an agreement of one story and three poems. This is the sort of book that would have been great for our bed time routine; there is a lot of variety in the poems, and they’re all quite short, which keeps the rhyming schemes fresh and snappy.

I enthusiastically recommend this book for pre-schoolers to about seven year olds. It’s a lovely book to read to aloud, and while some of the names of breeds are tongue-twisters – such as Xoloitzcuintil! – independent readers will enjoy practising their rhyming skills while reading to themselves.

Reviewed by Rachel Moore

Doggy Ditties from A to Z
written by Jo van Dam, illustrated by Myles Lawford
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775431886