Alanna Propst, Author
Michelle Simpson, Illustrator
Magination Press, Fiction, Mar. 30, 2021
Suitable for Ages: 4 – 8
Themes: Dogs, Anxiety, Fear, Exposure therapy, Rhyme
Opening: “Oh Tommy, you’ve got mail, it’s from Joey down the street. An invite to his birthday bash, it sounds like such a treat!”
Eight feet tall and with teeth like swords!
When Tommy is invited to a birthday party, he’s excited until he remembers his friend Joey has a big hairy dog that slobbers and barks a lot. Tommy is afraid of dogs and tells his mom he is too scared to go. His mother shares her fear of dogs as a child and reassures Tommy that they will come up with a plan and take slow steps to help him overcome his fear. With her help, Tommy slowly learns to overcome his fear through exposure therapy. Together, they take small steps to get him comfortable with dogs, starting with pictures of cute little puppies and working through steps to eventually pet a big dog all on his own so that he will feel comfortable going to his friend’s birthday party.
Why I like this book:
Alanna Propst’s delightful rhyming picture book will be a welcomed addition to any home or school library. The Not-So-Scary Dog will help children deal with just about any fear or phobia — animals reptiles, swimming, starting school, going to the doctor/dentist, riding in an elevator, or monsters under the bed. They won’t avoid fun activities, sit on the sidelines and miss-out on the fun. Kids have active imaginations and Tommy’s are a bit exaggerated to make point of how fears grow over time.
I remember my fear of certain dogs (Boxers and German Shepherds) as a child. I was bitten on my fanny when I was very young. It took years for me to overcome my fear of these two breeds. And I had a fear of snakes, although it didn’t stop me from running through cornfields and playing in the creeks. What were you afraid of as a child? Leave your answer in the comments section.
Michelle Simpson’s brightly colored illustrations showcase Tommy’s big imagination about big scary dogs. As the story progresses, her beautiful artwork is expressive and playful and compliments the story.
Resources: There is an excellent Reader’s Note at the end of the book that talks about exposure therapy and it’s many uses and benefits. There are suggestions and activities for parents and teachers to use with kids. There is also a series of questions to ask kids about the book to get them talking about Tommy’s fear. This will lead to kids talking about their fears. Share your own fears so your child doesn’t feel so alone or ashamed. How did you overcame your fear?
Alanna J. Propst is a psychiatrist who graduated from McGill University in both the Psychiatry Residency Program as well as the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Subspecialty Program, and has worked in inpatient, outpatient and emergency room settings. This is her debut picture books. She live in Montreal, Canada.
12 thoughts on “The Not-So-Scary Dog by Alanna Propst”
This sounds like a great book to help kids overcome their fear of dogs. Our son was just the opposite, and we had to teach him that not all dogs wanted his love, LOL.
It is a terrific book to help kids with fears. My daughter was the same way and we had to teach her to not step into a dog’s space and let the dog come to her.
LikeLiked by 1 person
LOVE the sound of this one; I’m actually a little afraid of dogs myself, since getting bitten two years back by a dog. Will be on the lookout for it!
I like this book because it has so many applications and parents can learn how to use exposure therapy to help their kids overcome a fear.
My 50-pound retriever who is trying to climb onto my lap as I type this knows I’m not afraid of him as he’s not a snake. But I still avoid large german shepherds after being attacked a few years ago, and I fully understand kids’ fears when they see me out walking my own dogs (we try to stay as far from fearful-looking kids as we can).
I did the same with my poodle, but because she was small kids would want to hug her. She might snap at them, so I had to get down on her level and calm her when kids were around. It was even a problem with larger friendly dogs. All of our poodles wanted to walk between my husband and I when we took them for walks.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I had no problem with dogs or cats. It was bees that would send me into hiding. I’ll let a neighbor know about this book as her young one is terrified of any size dog.
So many ways to use this book! Yes, I had trouble with bees too. If stung on the foot, my entire leg swelled. In later years I’ve had to learn to make friends with them.
What a great book. I think it will help many kids address and realize they aren’t alone in their fears. Really big spiders – coaster sized – spiders terrified me as a kid. Well, I’m not to fond of them as an adult, either.
This would be a great book to have at home and at school. I never really saw a coaster sized spider. That would alarm me even now.
A surprising number of kids are scared of dogs, so this is a terrific picture book, and really for overcoming any fears, which we all have.
Yes, I thought so too because of its many applications. Very kid-friendly illustrations.