Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Book Review: Circle Dogs, by Kevin Henkes/illus. by Dan Yaccarino (Greenwillow Books, 1998)

circle dogsRecommended for ages 2-5

Circle dogs live with their family in a square house with a square yard, eat circle snacks, and dig circle holes. Created by popular children’s author/illustrator duo Kevin Henkes and Dan Yaccarino, Circle Dogs provides a fun lesson in shapes wrapped within a story about two fun-loving dachshunds, referred to as “circle dogs” because they twist themselves into circles when they sleep. The story takes place over a day in the life of the circle dogs and their family: they wake up in the morning, along with the sun, alarm, baby and birds; kiss their family members; play; eat; nap; eat, and go to bed for the night. Dan Yaccarino’s artwork has shades of Lane Smith’s retro feel here; his brightly colored gouache pictures look like cutouts on white space and will attract a young reader’s attention with his contrasting colors. The bold text is black on lighter spaces and white against black spaces, standing out and making reading easy.

This concept book provides a great opportunity for a read-aloud on shapes. The book invites interactive reading by using repetitive sounds to communicate the dogs’ day: their tags go clink-clank, their tails flip-flap and swish, swoosh, and they eat their dog food with a kibble-clatter, kibble nibble.   Circles, squares and triangles are easily identifiable and plentiful throughout. This would be a great opportunity to use a felt board with shapes for young audiences to identify and create pictures with – a square can be a house, a sandwich, a window; a circle can be a sun, a face, or a table; a triangle can be an ice cream cone, a hat, or a dog’s ear, as in Circle Dogs. The DLTK website offer a Shapes Buddies webpage with printables including a Shapes Bingo game and Buddy Shapes to color.

The author’s webpage offers information about more of his books, plus downloadable guides and printables for parents and teachers.




I'm a mom, a children's librarian, bibliophile, and obsessive knitter. I'm a pop culture junkie and a proud nerd, and favorite reads usually fall into Sci-Fi/Fantasy. I review comics and graphic novels at WhatchaReading ( I'm also the co-founder of On Wednesdays We Wear Capes (, where I discuss pop culture and geek fandom from a female point of view.

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