Homer by Elisha Cooper

Cindy: Let me start by assuring you that the dog who stars in Homer (Greenwillow 2012) does not die. Homer is old, though, and his age shows as the day starts with Homer on the porch watching the busy activity of his family (including other more sprightly pups of various breeds). A young child pulls at his tail and asks if he wants to explore the field. “Thank you, but no,” thinks Homer and puts his head back in his paws and watches from his perfect spot. He turns down offer after offer to adventure out. “No, no. I’m fine right here.”

Each adventurer returns at day’s end to tell him of the treasures they found, the things they saw, and to give him a loving pat on the head. As the sun sets, the old dog stretches and carefully walks inside, eats his dinner and curls up in a favorite chair. He needs nothing because, he says, “I have you.”

I have several friends with aging dogs that look just like Homer and this book will be a perfect gift for them. But even if a child doesn’t own a dog, the story may help them to understand older relatives who are content to watch from the porch rather than kick the soccer ball or swim in the surf. This is a quiet book with very little text that says so much. You’ll want to meet Homer.

Lynn:  Dog-lovers young and old will clasp this quiet sweet book to their hearts!  Homer’s family loves him and that is all he needs, as throughout the story, each family member checks in, bringing love and memories of earlier romps and younger days.  Cooper’s soft watercolor illustrations add to the reassuring sense of this story.  Each set of facing pages features someone inviting Homer along or sharing part of their day paired with Homer’s contented response.  He is happy to watch the day unfold, beautifully shown in the changing colors of the sky, secure in the knowledge that his family will come home to him.  I especially love the 2 page spread at the end that is broken into six panels, showing Homer’s slow journey at the end of the day into the house and up into his favorite chair while the family rotates around him.  Homer has us and we, happily, have him.

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees.

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