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Kim Messina
If You Could Ask Your Dog One Question . . .
kim messina, author

Children/Young Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)

This is a poetic story of a young girl's struggle to pick the perfect question to ask her dog. From "Why do you steal my fuzzy socks?" to "Do make you happy?" her inquiries highlight quirky dog behaviors while exposing the profound love she feels for her pet.

In Messina’s endearing debut picture book, a young girl ponders what singular question she might pose to her pet dog if the two could understand each other. As she imagines the possibilities, the unnamed girl’s thoughts cycle through both the happy and sad times she has had while caring for her dog. The events inform the questions she considers, such as thinking of a snowy day and asking, “Do her feet sting in the snow?” Nataliia Pavliuk’s inviting watercolor-style drawings of the girl and her pup accompany these ruminations. She continues to ask questions about the dog’s daily doings -- her constant scratching, fear of thunder, and penchant for stealing fuzzy socks. Ultimately, after running through questions big and small, the girl lands on the most important one.

Readers will adore the devotion the girl has for her dog — and vice versa. The compassion is clearly demonstrated through both the language and the illustrations. With a light rhyme scheme and textured words like “munch,” “howl,” and “trample,” the text is ideal for read-aloud sessions with younger children. Dog owners will relate to the questions, including “Does she understand my words?” and “What causes all those zoomies?” Although the story will mostly resonate with people who have a pet dog, any reader who enjoys the company of animals will find the questions amusing.

The images are just as engaging as the words, perfectly complementing the story and the girl’s thoughts with pastel colors, clean lines, and a soft focus. Appealingly simple, the drawings also convey a sense of movement and fluidity that lends well to the pacing of the story, particularly for reading aloud. Young readers and families will enjoy following the girl’s hypothetical questions (“How does it feel to dive in leaves?”) and will likely feel an even stronger connection to their pets after the journey.

Takeaway: This picture book’s illustrated thoughts of a girl deciding the best question to ask her pet dog will appeal to young animal lovers.

Great for fans of: Peggy Rathmann’s Officer Buckle and Gloria, Stacy McAnulty’s Excellent Ed, Frann Preston-Gannon’s Hot Dog Cold Dog.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A-
Illustrations: A
Editing: B+
Marketing copy: A-