My Friend Charlie: A book for young readers and dog lovers

Scott MacDonald

Publisher: del Mar Publishing Pages: 50 Price: (paperback) $20.00 ISBN: 9798985816235 Reviewed: July, 2023 Author Website: Visit »

Like a series of inspirational classroom posters in book form, My Friend Charlie presents short, life principles packaged with illustrations and photographs of dogs.

This picture book is nonfiction, but doesn’t have the typical focus on nature, outer space, transportation, or other categories that dominate early reader nonfiction. Instead, My Friend Charlie pairs advice with photographs of the author’s Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Charlie.

The book seems fashioned as a self-help guide for children. Each two-page spread includes a broad piece of advice on the left side with an accompanying cartoon, and a slightly more unpacked version of this advice on the right with an accompanying photograph of the real-life Charlie. For example, “Look for treats” hovers over a cartoon of a dog relaxing on a pile of dog treats and treat boxes. On the facing page, Charlie anticipates a treat from a service professional with the text: “Always be on the lookout for special treats. They add something extra to life.” Other lessons include “Don’t whine or complain too much” and “Respect your feelings.”

Subtitled “A book for young readers and dog lovers,” My Friend Charlie delivers on the latter—particularly for fans of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels—with plenty of photos of dogs. It’s more questionable if young readers are an appropriate audience. In fact, early readers aren’t likely to understand some of the advice, such as: “Everyone needs a job. Find work and activities you enjoy doing.” This seems geared to an older audience, even adults. The same is true for: “Seek others who are nice and will support you”; “Knowledge leads to greater understanding” and several other lines. Less abstract words and more concrete ways children can apply these ideas would be helpful.

This is a promising conceit, but the book lacks a keen understanding of its audience. A thoughtful revision, however, could turn this into a wonderful resource for parents looking to start conversations about life principles with their youngsters.

Also available as an ebook.

Author's Current Residence
San Diego, California
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