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That New Animal | Class #2, 2016

that new animalHere’s another picture book for our second class. There are lots of books out there that tackle an emotional issue in a heavy handed way. I’m not a fan of those books, but I love this one. What do you think? Does it accomplish its goal? Would it appeal to a child in a similar situation? How does it avoid sounding preachy — or does it? And what do you make of the ugly baby?





Lolly Robinson About Lolly Robinson

Lolly Robinson is the creative director for The Horn Book, Inc. She has degrees in studio art and children's literature and teaches children's literature at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education. She has served on the Caldecott and Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committees and blogs for Calling Caldecott and Lolly's Classroom on this site.



  1. Christina Simpson says:

    I loved this book and found it quite entertaining! I think it would do a wonderful job of making an older sibling feel more comfortable about the arrival of a new baby brother or sister and would help them understand that it’s okay to feel nervous or upset about the new sibling’s arrival. I think that the ending of the book would also help an older sibling see that with time, things will go back to normal, albeit a “new normal.” The dogs are charming and funny, and by telling the story through their perspective, I think Jenkins successfully avoids making the book sound “preachy.”

  2. Madeline Loughridge says:

    I definitely agree with what Christina said. I very much enjoyed the book and found it quite funny. I love that the story was told the perspective of two dogs. I was surprised when I began to read it the the “new animal” was actually the baby; that was not the prediction I made from just looking at the cover. I could see myself reading this to a group of young students if a student in the class was going to be an older sibling soon. It seems like an easier and funny way to talk about something that might be quite difficult for some children.

  3. Anthony Capone says:

    I loved this book. It seems like a good way to teach point of view to young readers and maybe even compare/contrast through looking at how things are and how they used to be. I also think that kids might have an easy time sympathizing with the dogs in this book which, in terms of socioemotional competence, is a good thing to teach young children. I agree with the first two posts that suggest that this could be used as a way to have kids talk about hard topics. There are so many sides to this book — even a comical side (when the white dog pees on the carpet)!

  4. Carla Cevallos says:

    I was looking forward to reading this book since we read “We Were Liars” in Adolescent Literature. I was absolutely shocked by Jenkins’s (or Lockhart’s) ability to switch between such different target audiences, and write so beautifully and adequately for both of them! Like Christina mentioned, I loved that by telling the story of the arrival of a new baby from the dogs’ point of view, the author avoids falling into a preachy “be-a-good-older-brother” kind of discourse. Besides, thinking about dogs instead of people, as well as the humorous details of the story, provide enough emotional distance to make the topic more approachable for young readers who might be having a lot of negative feelings about having a new baby brother or sister. I also thought that it was interesting that not only the role of an older sibling is substituted by the dogs, but also the ambivalent feelings that a new baby typically elicit are represented using two dogs (one always wants to harm the baby and the other one stops him).

  5. Hannah Yang says:

    This book provided a humorous perspective on the arrival of a new baby. The dogs display all the emotions that an older sibling may feel along with some illustrations of actions that may accompany those feelings. At first there is curiosity and exploration of the new situation. Then there is a bit of jealousy and attempts to garner attention. Finally, there’s a progression to acceptance and inclusion with the introduction of a newer figure. I think it’s interesting in the author’s use of the Grandpa as a sort of antagonist role and turning point at which the dogs prefer the baby and try to ‘protect’ the baby.

  6. Robin Kane says:

    I really enjoyed this book by Emily Jenkins and I found it interesting to see how Jenkins used the two dogs to explore the theme of sibling rivalry. I think the author does a great job using humor to demonstrate the complicated feelings that children sometimes struggle with when a new baby comes home. The illustrations by Pierre Pratt compliment the humorous tone and I think his style matches the feel of the story perfectly. I agree with Carla when she said that Jenkins avoids falling into that kind of “preachy discourse” that is so prevalent in books for young children that are anxious to teach a lesson. Instead, Jenkins subtly sends the message that these feelings in some way are universal and sometimes a part of the process of accepting someone new into your life. I loved the end page of the family where the baby is older and mom is pregnant again. Again, subtly reassuring that all is well.

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