Top 100 Picture Books #28: Go, Dog, Go! by P.D. Eastman
#28 Go, Dog, Go! by P.D. Eastman (1961)
My just-turned 6-year old read this to me in it’s entirety last week! First book ever she read all the way through. What a terrific book! – Angela Gillette
This one is a masterpiece of humor, wordplay, and just plain words. But mostly it’s a masterpiece of dogs—all kinds of dogs doing doggy (and human) things with slightly ironic expressions. The ongoing routine, “Do you like my hat?” makes an oddly pleasing narrative thread even as it resembles an Allen and Burns routine. Kids are riveted by what the dogs are up to on each page, and if they happen to learn to read a few words along the way, so much the better. – Kate Coombs
We’ve already seen one Eastman make it onto this list with his Are You My Mother? But honestly, when you want to talk about the Eastman title that
The plot as described on Anita Silvey’s Children’s Book-a-Day Almanac reads, “In a mere seventy-five words, Eastman manages to portray a group of dogs engaged in high-speed activities and madness. ‘Dogs in cars again./Going away./Going away fast./Look at those dogs go./Go, dog. Go!’ These dogs drive around in cars and finally meet at a party. Three times a pink poodle asks a yellow dog, ‘Do you like my hat?’ And he doesn’t! Then on her fourth try, the dog adores the poodle’s outrageous party hat—and they drive off into the sunset together.”
The timing on this post is particularly well-timed since just yesterday I conducted a panel at Day of Dialog (hosted by SLJ) of picture book authors and illustrators. Jon Klassen, creator of I Want My Hat Back and This Is Not My Hat spoke a bit about his influences and of Mr. Eastman in particular. Though his personal favorite was always Sam and the Firefly (Eastman’s first easy reader) it’s Go, Dog, Go! that strikes home as well. “I just don’t know what makes Go, Dog, Go! go,” he said. I know the feeling.
He’s not the only picture book creator to be influenced by it. In Everything I Need to Know I Learned in a Children’s Book, former National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature Jon Scieszka gave proper props to this book. He says, “At school I was trying to learn to read by deciphering stories featuring two lame kids named Dick and Jane. They never did much of anything exciting. And they talked funny. If this was reading, I wondered why anyone would bother. Then I found Go, Dog. Go! . . . The book seemed so much more real to me (so much more like my family of five brothers) than the books about those strange kids with funny speech patterns. And that hat. That hat may mean more than we ever know.”
- When the book came out in Nook app form it was a little controversial thanks to the price.
- My favorite mash-up came when someone created a little book called Godot, Dog, Godot! But I am unable to relocate it at the moment.
So I had to sate my curiosity on this one. How exactly do you go about adapting this book to the stage again? I’m hoping they set up a tragic love story between the dog with the hat and the one who repeatedly tells her that it’s just not good enough.
About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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