February 23, 2018
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‘First Dog’s White House Christmas’ sure to win over children

Contributed | BDN
Contributed | BDN
By Terri Schlichenmeyer, Special to the BDN

FIRST DOG’S WHITE HOUSE CHRISTMAS, by J. Patrick Lewis and Beth Zappitello, illustrated by Tim Bowers, Sleeping Bear Press, $15.95/$17.95 Canada, 32 pages

Every year for the holidays, there are traditions your family likes to do.

You might decorate your tree at a certain time with ornaments that mean something special to you. Maybe you all get together to bake and decorate cookies. Perhaps you go to church, then open presents — or the other way around, depending on when Santa comes.

At Dog’s big white house, they throw parties every Christmas and this year, he’s invited his friends from around the world. In “First Dog’s White House Christmas” by J. Patrick Lewis and Beth Zappitello, illustrated by Tim Bowers, you’re invited to the party, too.

Things are very Christmasy at the White House. The Christmas trees are decorated and garlands are hung. There’s a big Nativity display, and everything smells wonderful. The master chef has even made a big gingerbread White House with a candy garden, chocolate furniture and a marzipan Dog out front.

But what Dog is most excited about is the party that’s coming up. Dog saw the invitation one day when he woke from his nap, and he decided to invite all his friends, too.

On the evening of the party, Dog took his place in the reception line and greeted all his guests. He asked them to tell everyone about the Christmas traditions in their home country as they came through the line.

The English bulldog told Dog about the first Christmas cards sent in London over 160 years ago.

The Canadian Newfoundland explained everything about mummering, and he brought some fruitcake for Dog to sample.

The French poodle arrived with a Buche de Noel, the Australian dingo told Dog about Christmas picnics, the Chihuahua brought a pinata from Mexico, the Kangal Dog from Turkey explained where St. Nicholas was born, and the Affenpinscher from Germany brought Dog a glass pickle for his tree. Soon, the White House was filled with dogs from all over the world!

All of Dog’s four-footed friends had a wonderful time at the White House. Hours later, Dog was tired and he went to sleep. But when he woke, there was another surprise waiting for him.

How many synonyms are there for “cute”? For sure, you could use them all with this irresistible book.

Using Bo the ObamaDog as inspiration, authors J. Patrick Lewis and Beth Zappitello explain to kids what Christmas is like around the world; the traditions, the weather, and the special things that families do to celebrate. You and your child may be amazed to learn the roots of some of the traditions your family holds dear.

My favorite parts of this book, though — and I suspect they’ll be your child’s favorites, too — are the adorable, colorful drawings. Illustrator Tim Bowers gives each animal such an expressive face and fun demeanor that the pictures might just influence a kid’s request from Santa.

When your child wants a Christmas read-aloud this year, don’t be surprised if “First Dog’s White House Christmas” is the first one that’s grabbed. With this charming little book, you may start a new tradition.

Have feedback? Want to know more? Send us ideas for follow-up stories.

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