Donald Draayer’s children’s chapter book centers on two children, their parents and the loveable but sometimes infuriating dog next door.
Dirk and Dawn, especially Dirk, constantly beg their parents for a canine addition to the household. When their neighbors ask the family to care for their golden retriever known as Big Dog for two days, the children see a chance to make that dream come true. Having a dog in the house temporarily will surely convince their parents to allow them a permanent pet.
Big Dog’s visit, however, goes less smoothly than the children anticipate. He begins his stay by crashing into the kitchen table and goes on to ruin a load of freshly washed laundry, chew through wires and even get lost. But a visit to the park gives Big Dog a chance at last to prove his mettle, persuading Dirk and Dawn’s parents that perhaps a family dog is not such a bad idea after all.
The Adventures of Big Dog fits into the early reader tradition that includes the Clifford and Henry and Mudge books. Like those books, Draayer’s work features gentle humor and exciting but not-too-perilous adventures. Draayer’s style also lends itself easily to reading aloud. It would, however, suit a slightly older audience than the others, as the story is longer and illustrations do not appear on every page.
Draayer displays a great facility in rendering both human and canine thoughts, and although they appear sparingly, Alan Tollefson’s endearingly goofy pictures enhance the story’s quirky sweetness.