This is the 2003 winner of the Claudia Lewis Poetry Award:
Little Dog and Duncan by Kristine O'Connell George (Clarion, 2002)
Here is a Readers' Guide for Little Dog and Duncan created by Jenni Stechmann Crume.
O’Connell George, Kristine. 2002. Little Dog and Duncan. Ill. By June Otani. New York: Clarion Books. ISBN 061811758X
Recommended age levels: Preschool-Grade 2
The poems in this book chronicle Duncan’s visit to Little Dog’s house. At first, Little Dog isn’t sure that it’s a good idea because Duncan is a big dog and takes up a lot of space. As the day progresses, Little Dog discovers that he loves to play with Duncan and they become the best of friends. When Duncan has to go home, Little Dog is very sad. Will he still have a friend?
Awards ( for the book):
Claudia Lewis Poetry Award (2003)
Horn Book Fanfare 2002
Capitol Choices 2002: Noteworthy Books for Children
Awards (for the author):
Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award Promising Poet Award
“The author and artist of Little Dog Poems (1999) reunite with this equally pleasing book of poetry for both young listeners and new readers(.)…Otani’s tender watercolors, with bright, white, uncluttered backgrounds, link the poems, at the same time showing how much alike the dogs are. They record the action with charming sincerity underline[d] by gentle humor.”
– Stephanie Zvirin - Booklist
“George has a real knack for choosing ordinary moments and describing them in accessible yet lyrical language, transforming the mundane into the magical. The poems have been pared down and polished to perfection; although written in free verse, they have the elegance and quiet eloquence of haiku. Otani's watercolor paintings are filled with personality and charm(.)…Glowing with warmth and gentle humor, this book makes a great choice for reading aloud, or for quiet sharing while children are snuggled up with their favorite pet or stuffed pooch.”
– School Library Journal
Questions to ask before reading:
1. Ask the children questions about their friendships. “Have you ever met someone that you didn’t like at first but then started to like them? What happened?”
2. Have the students look at the cover and make predictions: “What do you think the poems will be about?”
3. If the children have read Little Dog Poems: “Who do you think Duncan is? Why do you think he is with Little Dog?”
4. Ask who has pets. Ask who has dogs. “Have you ever watched two dogs play together? Describe it for me.”
Suggestions for reading aloud:
1. Have the kids choose actions or motions for each time Little Dog is mentioned and one for each time that Duncan is mentioned. The students can keep it the same through the whole book or change it every couple poems.
2. Break the class up into groups. Have each group read a poem of the book out loud, in unison. Read through the whole book this way.
3. Read a poem once. On the second reading, have the children echo each line.
4. Rotate through the room and have a student read a line of each poem.
5. Have the children form a circle. Hand the first reader a small, soft ball. After they read a set amount of a poem, they toss the ball to someone in the circle, who then reads. Continue until everyone has read.
• Have the students brainstorm what they think the “next” poem would be about. Have them illustrate the poem.
• Have the children write poems about dogs. Alternatively, they could write poems about other pets they might have.
• Tell students to close their eyes and visualize the setting as you reread a poem. Have them describe the scene.
• Identify unfamiliar words. Have students guess the meaning of the words based off of context clues and setting. Look up the word and explain meaning. How close were they?
• Create loose strips of paper with pictures or instances in the book. Have the students put them in order.
• Compare/Contrast: Have the children list ways that Duncan and Little Dog are the same. Have them list how they are different.
• (Preschool): Have the children go through the book and count how many times Little Dog is mentioned. Have them count how many times Duncan is mentioned.
• (K-1): Give fraction worksheets using dogs – larger dogs representing Duncan and smaller dogs representing Little Dog. Have students identify which Little Dog is half or a quarter of the size of Duncan.
• Work with students to find more information about Kristine O’Connell George. Where is she from? How old is she? Where did she get inspiration for the Little Dog poems?
• Build a “Science Guide” about dogs. Examples could include:
o Who’s bigger? Little Dog or Duncan?
o Descriptions of Little Dog/Duncan (color, texture, sounds they make, etc)
o Comparison of the two dogs barks (pitch, loudness, etc)
o Pictures and sequence description (Little Dog is left of Duncan, etc.)
o Charts for height/weight (can use paper cut outs to measure and approximate weights)
1. Author’s website for the book (contained in her personal website). This website contains information about Kristine O’Connell George, suggested activities for teachers and information about the dogs that inspired the book.
2. This blog contains information about books that have won the Claudia Lewis Poetry Award. Not only does it have Little Dog and Duncan, but it is a great resource for other books that teachers and parents would love to use.
3. LoveYourDog.com is a website that contains poetry created by students about their dogs.
4. Jacket Flap – this site contains a list of works illustrated by June Otani. It includes bibliographic information for each book and an icon of the book’s cover.
Related Book by Kristine O’Connell George:
*Little Dog Poems by Kristine O’Connell George (Ill. by June Otani)
Books Illustrated by June Otani:
*Chibi by Barbara Brenner
*If You Lived in Colonial Times by Ann McGovern
*What Makes a Shadow? By Clyde Robert Bulla
Books about dogs:
*Clifford the Big Red Dog (and other Clifford books) by Norman Bridwell
*Doggies: A Counting and Barking Book by Sandra Boynton
*Dog by Matthew Van Fleet
*Questions and Activities Based off of Missouri State Grade Level Expectations
* Clip Art on cover from Microsoft Word (Microsoft Office 2007)