Review of Dogs: A History of Our Best Friends

Dogs: A History of Our Best FriendsDogs: A History of Our Best Friends
by Lita Judge; illus. by the author
Primary, Intermediate    Abrams    56 pp.
4/23    9781419755446    $19.99
e-book ed.  9781647003555    $15.54

Preceding the title page, four double-page spreads take readers back to the Stone Age when Paleolithic hominins first began domesticating dogs. From there, Judge (The Wisdom of Trees, rev. 7/21) traces the symbiotic relationship between humans and canines, showing how dogs have been helpers, healers, partners, and even fashion accessories through the centuries. In turn, humans have provided dogs with shelter, food, and ­companionship. Judge includes ­interesting tangential information to expand her narrative, such as noting that dogs are the only animals innately able to look where a human points. Best of all, though, she frequently shares her information sources, citing archaeological evidence within the text. For example, she notes artifacts and carvings from ancient canine burial sites that indicate the early importance of family dogs. These lovable “face-licking, sandwich-snatching family members” appear to share with humans the “love hormone” oxytocin, joyously displayed here in many of the expressive gouache and watercolor illustrations. Judge does not ignore other canine contributions, featuring, for instance, a moving portrait of a battlefield rescue dog and an expanded discussion of service dogs. Back matter includes an informative author’s note, illustrations of various breeds and noteworthy dogs throughout history, a timeline, and a bibliography.

From the July/August 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Betty Carter
Betty Carter, an independent consultant, is professor emerita of children’s and young adult literature at Texas Woman’s University.

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