If you are looking for a book that will warm your heart and the hearts of the children in your care, look no further. Award-winning author and illustrator Sarah Jacoby, who herself has a muppet-like pooch akin to the one in this story, captures much of what is genuinely valuable in humanity — and in our time-honored canine best friends.
The simple story line (reading age 5 - 8 years) allows the illustrations and lyrical lines to leap out. A young girl is followed by a dog who sees who she is and wants to sit with her.
The details of the very first spread of pictures gracefully set the stage, even before any words appear. The girl walks hand-in-hand with her mother past row houses in shades of salmon, golden yellow, and olive green. One porch is adorned with bright patches that appear to be Tibetan prayer flags (subtle and understated); sneakers hang by their laces over a telephone wire suggesting a variety of possible interpretations: a rite of passage, bullying, gang territory. The mother waves to neighbors of various ethnicity. We get a vibrant, multi-cultural, city vibe with just a touch of possible danger that might make extra company and protection a plus.
The girl has already caught the eye of the little dog, stretching in her direction from the opposite page. The dog wants to ask her a question and catches up to her and her mother in order to do so. But the gentle loveliness of how the dog asks is what wins the heart:
If you are brimming like a ringing bell,
if you are lonely like an empty plate,
if you are dusty eyed,
if you are bright —
Can I sit with you?
The dog continues to offer these "ifs" and starts to make endearing promises, like "I'll be familiar, loyal, true." And we can see from the pictures — like one that shows the two of them side-by-side in moonlit snow — that the girl knows something about returning this loyalty.
What will happen as the girl grows, "if you hear another call or disappear from view"? We won't give away the answer, but please know that it's just as simultaneously heart-tugging and joyous as this entire book.