The Children's Book Compass

Four Memorable Dogs

Posted on: March 23, 2011

Meet the Dogs of Bedlam Farm by Jon Katz.  (2011). Pages not numbered.   Holt. Ages 4-11. Nonfiction.

Who can resist a dog story?  And, this is one of the best because these are real dogs.  Photographs and text chronicle the lives of four dogs on a farm in Upstate New York.  The dogs are Rose, Izzy, Frieda, and Lenore.  The first three each have jobs to do.  Rose herds sheep, Izzy visits sick people and Frieda guards the farm.  As each of the three dogs’ history and work are described in detail, a question repeats – “What is Lenore’s job?”  We begin to guess as we see the way Lenore befriends the others.  At the end the text reads,

“Lenore is different.

She doesn’t guide the sheep, like Rose does.

She doesn’t visit people who are sick, like Izzy does.

She doesn’t guard the farm, like Frieda does.

She licks the others dogs, touches noses, and wags her tail.

Lenore makes dogs play and people smile.

She makes sure everyone is happy.

Thanks to Lenore, the dogs are a family.

Her job is loving and accepting and having patience.

And that may be the greatest work of all.”

What a satisfying ending.  The large size, color photographs feature close ups and portraits of the dogs at work and play.  Their personalities are captured by the camera.  The dogs are shown working throughout the year in snow, in fall and summer.  Two of the dogs were rescued and brought to the farm, gentled by Lenore.  Read this one aloud to an appreciative audience.  To learn more about the dogs visit Katz’s website:


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