While I usually read and review adult books, with grandsons now of reading age I decided to accept a couple of children's titles to provide a different twist on these reviews. Instead of me stumbling through the books, I thought: Why not contact the experts? So, I gave CITY DOG, COUNTRY DOG to my seven-year-old grandson, Grayson Schreiber, and told him, "Take it to school."
He returned a few days later with a full review from his first-grade classmates and their teacher, Nancy Meengs, at Gilmore Elementary south of Houston. Their verdict was an unqualified 50 thumbs up.
"As a teacher, I would definitely use this story as a mentor text in my first grade class," said Meengs, noting that one of the authors, S.S. Crummel, actually had visited the campus at Gilmore last fall. Meengs continued: "There is so much that can be taught from it."
Besides the basics of word recall, punctuation and history, she said CITY DOG, COUNTRY DOG can stimulate "higher-level thinking skills." The class took a vote and most decided they "loved it."
With its sporadic use of French words, the book provided the class with exposure to a different culture and fit her needs for early reading lessons. She said: "We look for details in pictures, look for and understand morals, connect to ourselves, predict and infer. This story has all of that, and it's a fun story to read and listen to."
She shared some direct comments from her students as well. One enjoyed the different languages and the opportunity to learn new words. Another like the country dog for its resemblance to a Golden retriever. Another enjoyed seeing famous paintings in the art. And another student summarized the story: "It taught us that no matter how different the dogs are, they can still like each other."