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Old Dog by Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross is a picture book about how the young treat the old, and how old people can have surprising things to teach young children.  It is suitable for children aged from three to seven, and would work equally well for boys and girls.

Based on the old saying: ‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks’, this book shows that you might well be able to teach new dogs old tricks.

The young pups do not want to go and see grandfather dog. He is boring, his breath smells, he talks about the olden days all the time. They hate visiting him and make it clear to their mother that they are not going. Mother insists and drags them, moaning to visit grandfather, where the pups are terribly rude to granddad, until he pulls a few stunts from his circus days and impresses them into submission.

My son enjoyed this book because of how rude the pups were.  They pull no punches. He also liked the silliness of granddad’s response, bringing out all his old circus paraphernalia and eventually being fired out of a cannon.

Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross have written and illustrated many books together and this is a story which brings both of their skills to the fore and showcases their talents as a creative and vibrant force in children’s story telling.

I like the fact that the book pulls no punches, either in the rudeness of the children, or the surprising and quite anarchic response of the grandfather.  The book clearly teaches us that the elderly were young once too, and not to judge a book by its cover, but it does it in a fresh and funny way with no syrupy, kind emotions getting in the way, which I totally approve of.

This would be an excellent book to use as part of a school topic on families, or even the topic of family history.  It would also work quite well as part of a topic on circuses. You can see more books about circuses by clicking on the link, here.

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