Barkley by Rebecca Crane
Walker Books, 2020. ISBN: 9781760651404.
(Age: 3+) Highly recommended. Barkley is unsure of just what sort of dog he is. He compares himself to all the neighbourhood dogs: he is not big like the biggest dog, or fluffy like the really fluffy ones, or long and stretched out like the long greyhounds. He looks around and is concerned that he does not fit any category: he is not fast or fierce or fancy, and concludes that he is a nothing dog, a dog that no one values, and runs away. In doing this he becomes lost and does not know how to get back home. Now he is a tired, cold and wet dog, and very very lost. But in searching for Max, he comes across a poster with a picture of himself and Max on it, telling people that Barkley is a lost dog. The poster describes him as small, black and white and Max's best friend. Barkley puts the poster in his mouth and sets off to find Max. In searching for Max, Barkley finds that he is being searched for as well, and the two are reunited.
Now he is a very happy dog.
This lovely story, reiterating that we all have value, uses words to describe the traits of the dogs in the neighbourhood, and very easily, readers will be able to apply those words to themselves. All of the descriptive words (adjectives); long, short, fluffy, lost, etc could be used in a variety of ways in the classroom, introducing the role of such words and how they enhance meaning. The positive outcome uses affirming words, happy, best friend, encouraging the readers to apply them more widely. They will see the connection between these positive words and their self esteem, and recognise that Barkley's self esteem plummeted when he felt he had no value.
Themes: Self esteem, Mental health, Loss, Dogs, Friendship.