RAGWEED’S FARM DOG HANDBOOK(LEARN FROM THE BEST!) by Anne Vittur Kennedy (2015; Candlewick Press) is everything a picture book is supposed to be. Ragweed is a quirky, long-snouted, googly-eyed farm dog with an overbite and an over-eager desire for biscuits. Ragweed gives directions on how to be a farm dog in this instruction manual gone awry. Using dog logic, this mischievous mutt breaks all his own rules and even reveals his alliance with the fox!
Ragweed’s rules are superbly written from a dog’s point of view, which adds to the hilarity. Lines such as “Mud is lovely. It smells like worms and toes and earwax,” or “But you will throw up a biscuit, and you can eat that one again,” makes it impossible to read this book with a straight face.
RAGWEED’S FARM DOG HANDBOOK(LEARN FROM THE BEST!) is an excellent mentor text for point of view and voice. Even though Ragweed provides information for children such as chickens lay eggs and sheep grown curly hair, the information is always given from a dog’s point of view. This makes the information fresh and funny. As humans are concerned, Ragweed is an unreliable narrator, but his voice is spot-on and consistently that of a very honest dog.
Ragweed’s authenticity will, at times, gross readers out and his practicality will make them howl with laughter. He is such a lovable character, though, that we will forgive him everything and reward him with a biscuit!