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“A book is the most effective weapon against intolerance and ignorance.”
Summary: When Carson takes his dog Jack to the vet, she tells him Jack is overweight. Her prescription? Less food, no snacks, and lots of exercise. Carson does a great job getting Jack into shape, but is snacking and eating junk food himself all the while, thus gaining his own weight! So, Jack returns the favor and helps Carson work the weight off, exercising together happily. This is a boy-and-his-dog story with a message about being healthy.
Type of Reading: playtime reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 3 to 6; read yourself: 7 to 10
Interest Level: 3 to 8
Reading Level: 1.7
Age of Child: Read with boys ages 2, 4, and 6.
Young Reader Reaction: My boys really liked this book. They were quick to pick it out of the stack as a favorite and asked for it a number of times. I think this was mainly because one of the main characters is a dog, and there are some funny scenes where he fumbles to get a tennis ball and another where he gets pinched on the nose by a crab at the beach. I was surprised by their reaction. Mostly, I think, because I had such a negative reaction to the book, I did not expect for them to enjoy it. In reflecting on the book, I can see why they liked it -- it does have some fun scenes with a dog (always a hit in our house) and the book is funny.
Adult Reader Reaction: Overall, I thought the message was positive, trying to convey that exercise and eating right is a team effort and a lot of fun. Even so, I did not like this book. I felt the language was a bit mature for my kids -- the sarcasm portrayed a more negative attitude than we prefer in our household. Things like "Give me a break, Buster" and "You've got spaghetti sauce all over your face, Pal!" At the end of the day, the relationship between the dog and his owner is a positive one, so you could probably read your own text into the parts that may not appeal to you.
Pros: Fun illustrations will have kids laughing. There is a positive message, but you have to read to the end in order to get it.
Cons: Some of the humor may be too mature humor for the 4-to-6-year-old set. Even beyond the underwear scene, it is a bit disgusting. Carson is a real slob, he has spaghetti sauce all over his face (yup, I agree with the dog...), and one of the last pages has him standing in front of a mirror in just his underwear, grossly overweight. The image just did not appeal to me. For those who enjoy cartoons like King of the Hill and South Park, maybe this would not bother you.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow. This is not a book I'd keep in my home, but I see some value in the lesson taught. I think the book does appeal to kids, and there is value in using it to open a discussion about healthy choices in diet and exercise.
Educational Themes: The book illustrates and emphasizes positive messages about healthy eating and exercise. The boy-and-his-dog partnership show that it is easier to do it right if you work together.
Notes: The publisher donated a copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.
Literary Categories: Fiction - picture book, health and fitness, animal characters
Date(s) Reviewed: May 2012, October 2014
Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. No reader feedback found.