love can be a little bit blind where pets are concerned

Good dogs never walk out the gate (when there’s a fence to climb).
— Hank
good dog hank.jpg

by Jackie French, illustrated by Nina Rycroft - Harper Collins Australia, 2015
ages baby to 8 years / funny

Hank is a good dog – and Hank knows it.  Still, it might be hard for an onlooker to tell. 

Our dog Scott is a good dog too - and he knows it too. But sometimes it’s even hard for me to tell! Hank reminded me of Scott and the house where Hank lives is quite like ours. So this story resonated with me. I think it will with most dog owners.

That's Hank - and this is our dog Scott. See what I mean???

The story of Hank is the story of ‘The best good dog of all’ – who believes in living the letter of the law. And his family love him for it.  

Each page presents a new quality of a good dog. For example: “Good dogs don’t ever eat from the table.” Then there’s Hank’s take on it: “(When anyone can see them.)” It's a FUNNY book – one that will tickle the sense of humour of even very young children. 

Hank is an overbearing, boisterous sort of dog who finds himself in all sorts of funny situations. 

The words are simple and short, which means it’s quick to read aloud – and the illustrations tell a lot of the story. There’s a lot of life to the illustrations that add to the sense of Hank’s exuberance.

Stories that connect us with other groups of people are so very helpful in developing a sense of belonging. In this case, readers are connected with pet owners or people who love pets. And we’re connected to families whose lives are overrun by a big, loveable but sometimes overwhelming circumstance.  

In the story, that circumstance is Hank. For us, it might be any other part of our lives - from a pet to a hobby to a family member.

I really appreciate the blind eye that the family turns to Hank’s antics – because after all don’t we all need our family to turn a blind eye once in a while? Hank is forgiven, loved, enjoyed and looked after because he is simply a member of the family. This little story has a lot to say about belonging, and about making the rules work for you. 

It's a great story to own and to read often if you have:

A dog or pet lover in the family

A life that is sometimes overtaken by circumstances that you just can’t quite control

Someone who needs to take rules a little less seriously (a far bigger issue than those who don’t take rules seriously enough in my opinion)

A few minutes to spend reading something to lighten the mood

A need to talk about obedience – of the animal or human variety

A hankering for something funny and relatable

And a final note – it's also a good early literacy book thanks to the repetition of the words “Good dogs don’t” and the predictable pattern used to tell the story.