by William Steig, published 1972
“How did the world ever manage without me before I was born,” he wondered. “Didn’t they feel something was missing?”
This thoroughly enjoyable children’s book by William Steig is full of unexpected depth, despite the totally imaginative story line. We follow Dominic, the dog, as he seeks his adventures in the world, running into all kinds of animals, both friendly and otherwise. Yet Dominic, or perhaps it’s really Steig, is profoundly philosophical, and little inner musings by Dominic catch you by surprise.
The children’s book is perfect for younger children, either those who can read on their own, or as a read-aloud. It is both silly and adventurous, and of course, very well-written. Steig is a a great craftsman with words and images, and each encounter with another animal is unexpected. Dominic’s willingness to face every challenge is a great message for kids of any age.
There is a serious moment early on when an older pig dies, more or less of old age. It’s good to be prepared for this if you are reading this children’s book to younger (5 to 6-year-olds.) However, it is handled with such beauty and empathy that it is an exceptional way to talk about death as a natural process if it’s time to do so with your child. Older children will enjoy reading this book on their own, as it is simply written. The humor is present throughout, so be prepared to smile a lot!