My dog Dash by Nicki Greenberg
Allen and Unwin, 2016. ISBN 9781760110673
(Age: 3+) Highly recommended. Pets. Dogs. Snails. Ownership. Responsibility. Humour. The irony of the name, Dash, for her pet, becomes obvious when the first double page is turned to reveal a snail. Kids will laugh uproariously at the young girl and her pet snail, taking it off to puppy school, introducing it to her friends and relatives, taking it for a walk, teaching it to sit and stay. All the things a child does with a pet dog are portrayed in this story, teaching younger children about the responsibility of having a pet but using humour and wit to press home the points being made. Without being obvious, the humour behind the story will display the things a child can do with a pet dog and make them aware that there are times when a pet can cause mayhem, like sliding up a visitor's nose, or leaving a mess, or stealing food from the table. Or worst of all, eating through a pile of books!
But one night Dash disappears. The images of the whole sleep-deprived family out searching for the lost snail will cause readers to laugh out loud as they sympathise with the family forced to search through the night with their flashlights for a snail. And the surprise ending will cause more fun. The illustrations are just wonderful, with the little snail meandering across most pages, living its own life, oblivious to the work going on about it as the young girl tries to keep it as a pet. Kids will engage with this book, opening up discussions about their pets and pet ownership, the joys of keeping a pet and perhaps some of the downsides, the keeping of snails, and the role of parents when there is a pet in the house.