A Dog’s Guide to Being Human (Shanna Silva)

Hello, friends! Our book today is A Dog’s Guide to Being Human, written by Shanna Silva and illustrated by Agnès Ernoult, a sweet look at growing up human through the perspective of man’s best friend.

Smudge the dog is so excited – his humans are bringing home a tiny, furless baby. Being the good boy that he is, Smudge is eager to teach his new family member all there is to know about life, and pass on everything he’s learned about being human. For instance, tissues are fun to shred, roses are prickly, and NEVER drink the water from the toilet (it makes the other humans mad). Thunderstorms are scary, but you should try to be brave. Treat everyone as a potential friend, no matter what they look like. And most of all, what every good dog knows: there’s no limit to the love you can share.

Lovely. While some of Smudge’s advice is comedically misguided, this is always presented with a wink to the audience that helps the jokes land skillfully (the advice on shaking after a bath and not drinking from the toilet had JJ rolling with laughter). And as the lessons becomes more earnest, the tone beautifully straddles an ode to our relationships with dogs and a lesson in acceptance, inclusivity, and kindness. Ernoult’s digital artwork is charming and warm, with the oblong and energetic Smudge being a standout, but also manages to include a great deal of diversity in its scenes with humans. There’s even a wonderful illustration of Smudge making friends with a pitbull/bully breed dog, a class of canine often unfairly maligned in fiction and reality, alongside text encouraging tolerance. The length is perfect for a storytime, JJ loved this one, and we highly recommend it. A wonderful read, especially for dog lovers, that encourages us to look at the world through a dog’s eyes and heart. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Cedric’s Tail (Amani Uduman)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Cedric’s Tail, written by Amani Uduman and illustrated by Agnès Ernoult, a silly tale about being careful what you wish for.

More than anything, Cedric wants a tail, just like his pet dog and cat and fish. So for his fourth birthday, as he blows out his candles, he makes a very special wish – one that comes true! Overnight, little Cedric has sprouted a long, furry, prehensile tail, a delightful discovery… for the the first few minutes. In no time at all, Cedric is tripping, making messes, and getting his tail caught in the shower door! Suddenly, Cedric’s not sure about the benefits of having a tail – but how can get rid of it?

Amusing yet confusing. While Cedric’s story is a classic cautionary tale, this message sort of gets lost in the roller coaster of exploring the ups and downs of having such a unique feature. Cedric is happy, then frustrated, then scared, then happy again, then frustrated, then oddly harassed by the outside world, and it all happens so rapidly that the audience can’t quite keep up. There are some chuckle-worthy moments, but in the end, Cedric also appears to have learned nothing from his misadventure. And while the colorful illustrations have a few comical visuals, some – such as Cedric’s mother weeping over the news that his tail cannot be removed – are oddly intense. There’s also a notable lack of diversity; all primary characters present white, with a few darker-skinned characters in crowd and party scenes, and a few stereotypical uses of costuming (the only time Asian characters appear, they are clad in full kimonos, for instance) that feel a lot like tokenism. The length is fine, and JJ laughed at a few of the tail-related gags, but overall, this one was kind of a bemusing mess. Not really for us.

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)