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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Job Wanted, written by Teresa Bateman and illustrated by Chris Sheban. Holiday House, Thomas Allen & Son. 2015. $223.95 ages 3 and up

"The farmer scraped goo
off his boots. "Well, sure.
But, you're not a horse."
"We'll see about that," the
dog said. "I'll start work
When the farmer went to
the barn early the next
morning, the cows were ... "

The poor dog! Along the road toward the farm he trudges, tired of walking and hungry to boot. It's a miserable day. He's not too proud to ask the farmer if he could use a dog. The farmer has good reason to say no:

"Dogs just eat and don't
give anything back. They're
not like cows, or horses or
chickens that pay for their keep."

The dog wonders aloud if the farm might need another cow. The farmer answers in the affirmative, while reminding the dog that he is not a cow. The dog has a plan in mind> He will be back tomorrow. Before the farmer is up the next day, the dog has herded the cows into the barn ready for milking. While he appreciates the effort,t the farmer still cannot see hiring a dog for any job on the farm. The dog has no problem offering himself as both a horse and a chicken. No dice! It's easy for the audience to see that things are improving; the farmer holds to his original opinion about a dog's worth to him.

Finally, the dog cleans the chicken coop. The chickens are comfortable. They are happily laying eggs. The dog attends to his own comfort, building a nest for himself alongside the contented hens. A sly fox scopes out the henhouse for a quick raid while the farmer is hard at work. When the dog foils the fox's plan, the farmer admit there might be some merit in having the dog around the farm, ready and willing to do his level best to keep things running smoothly.  

The muted palette of grays and browns match the somber tone of this tale; the blues and golds are testament to the homey feel of the farm for a loveable  and helpful mutt. Chris Sheban uses watercolor, graphite and colored pencil to help readers feel the mood that is prevalent as the dog does his level best to find employment, company, and a home. The rhythm of the well-chosen text, and the repetitive patterns will surely encourage readers to try their hand at independent reading.

Funny and heartwarming!

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