The Bookshop Dog by Cynthia Rylant
There is a bookshop owner and her favorite pet dog, Martha Jane. She takes Martha Jane everywhere with her! She loved Martha Jane so much that she named her bookshop after her. So many people called the store hoping to talk to Martha Jane about a book they wanted, but she's a dog and dogs can't answer the phone. Eventually everyone realizes Martha Jane is in fact the bookshop owner's sweet loving dog and they start to visit the store to see her.
When the bookshop owner gets ill and has to go to the hospital, they won't allow her to bring Martha Jane so she has to find a sitter. Everyone in town competes to be Martha Jane's dog-sitter for the week. They do crazy things! The book ends on a happy note and Martha Jane has a surfin' good time!
Cynthia Rylant is also the illustrator for this book. Her pages are full of color from edge to edge. Every page has a one inch painted border with some kind of design on it. It's a great example for children on how to add extra details to their own illustrations. The illustrations in this book add a lot of detail to the story and help show the humor in the story. When the bookshop owner leads the book salesman to Martha Jane, there's a picture of a man shaking hands with a dog, which children will love. The illustrations depict bookstores as a fun place, which is important for children to see and get excited about reading.
There is a lot of use of lines in this book. At the beginning there are lines across the floor and straight lines on the buildings to represent stability and tranquility. When the bookshop owner has to go to the hospital and everyone is trying to be Martha Jane's dog-sitter, the use of diagonal lines is very evident to represent chaos and commotion.
Many of the supporting characters in this book are people of color. I did not even notice this on first read through. It is very important for children to see a diverse group of people interacting in books that they are reading to support multiculturalism and tolerance.
This is a great picturebook to read to children in the primary elementary grades.