Cat vs. Dog

Golden retriever dogs are my favorite.  They are beautiful, gentle, and loyal.  So when I saw the cover of My Big Dog, I immediately picked it up.  Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel  have created a fun read with excellent voice.  Children will love hearing the voice of the cat and will laugh at the illustrated scenes.

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The story is told through the eyes of a cat named Merl.  He loves his people and is very content to be the center of attention… until one day when his people bring home a puppy.  I chuckled and laughed “hearing” the cat’s perspective.

Here come my people.  They are picking it up.  They are talking to it in cutesy, smootsey, lovey-dovey baby voices.  Uh-oh.  It sees me.  Emergency alert – I have to hide!

Poor Merl.  He does not like the puppy and to his astonishment, the puppy keeps growing and growing and growing.  Making an ultimatum, Merl the cat decides to leave his home in search of another more suitable place to reside.  And, thus his unfortunate quest begins.

Savorings for reading and in writing for My Big Dog:

  • Voice – the cat speaks to the reader
  • Repeating Line and Structure – “PANT.  PANT.  SLURP.  It’s licking me with its sloppy, drooly tongue.  Yuck.”
  • Adjectives – wiggly, noisy, slurpy, clumsy puppy
  • Perspective – “My name is Merl and I am a cat, a very special cat.”
  • Everyday happening – Children often have pets that they write about.  Nudge them to try and write from the pet’s perspective.  This book is based on Janet Stevens’s pets, the real Merl and Violet.



2 Responses to Cat vs. Dog

  1. Kristin says:

    Have you read this sister book team’s HELP ME, MR. MUTT? Great mentor text for teaching letter format, charts and graphs, and voice!

  2. MOteacher says:

    I find Voice a tricky thing to teach my third graders w/out having great examples to read aloud. I use Junie B. Jones because she has a very strong voice, but not all readers connect with her. I love finding new ways to make something a little abstract more concrete. Plus, who can’t identify with being a cat lover or dog lover!


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