During my teenage years, three brothers were born into my family: three delightful, exasperating, energetic little people who needed a lot of chasing, feeding, and lulling to sleep. As the oldest sister, I got to be part of that process. One of my favorite jobs was reading bedtime stories – as long as I got to choose the books. Fortunately, my brothers and I were in agreement when it came to Go, Dog, Go! by P.D. Eastman.
I’m not sure what they liked about this book. The speeding cars? The active, all-dog cast of characters? The simple text? But I know what I liked: it was a deceptive simplicity. Underneath the easy-reader vocabulary, Go, Dog, Go! is a romance and a comedy, with plenty of scope for dramatic voices.
One picture shows a darkened room, a whole row of sleeping critters, and a bright-eyed little dog who is clearly dealing with insomnia. As the big sister, I knew that little boys don’t always go to sleep when we want them to. So this passage was deliciously ironic: “Now it is night. Night is not a time for play. It is time for sleep. The dogs go to sleep. They will sleep all night.” (I could only hope certain little boys were getting the point, as well).
Even more fun is the running relationship between a girl and boy dog who keep meeting and greeting each other throughout the book. “Hello!” the girl dog says brightly. “Do you like my hat?” But the boy dog doesn’t, and she flounces off — only to greet him just as enthusiastically the next time. As the story progresses, the hats get bigger and bolder and more packed with personality. Fortunately, the ending of the book is everything it ought to be: they ride off into the sunset together.
And no, that’s not a spoiler at all. As long as you add at least one small person, this book is good for at least half a hundred delightful readings.