February 06


Why I Bought a Stack of Sad Dog Books by Stacey Loscalzo

I don’t know about you but I have always avoided sad dog books until… I went looking for as many as I could find.

I have two teenage nephews that I love to laugh with and eat with and share family traditions with but we haven’t talked about books together in a long time. When the boys were little and we shared a beach house for a week, I would pack bags of picture books and the boys and our girls would sit together on the couch and laugh at David’s naked bottom or take turns reading as Elephant or Piggie but then everyone got bigger. And it became a whole lot harder to snuggle together on the couch to share a story.

It has been at least five years since I’ve had a chance to share books with my youngest nephew. In that time he has taken up the violin and the saxophone and plays in his windows of free time. Instruments have become for him what books always were for me at his age. You can imagine then, how excited I was on Thanksgiving when I heard him talk about his favorite book, A Dog’s Life by Ann Martin. I kept hearing, “So in the book…” and “This one time in the book…” and on and on. I hate the idea of pushing books and reading on a child who hasn’t yet found the books that they love but this was an opportunity that I could not miss. I asked him what he loved about A Dog’s Life and his response was, “Well, it was a great sad dog book.”

So with this information, I headed to my favorite independent children’s bookstore (because we are incredibly lucky to have such a thing in our neighborhood) and asked my favorite bookseller for all the sad dog books she could find. She and I exchanged a laugh because both she and I strongly dislike sad animal books. In fact, I learned recently, that she reads the end of animal books first to make sure that the animal will survive. That said, she is a superior bookseller so she went to work and came back with a stack of sad dog books so large that I had to make the pile a bit smaller before I made my purchase.

On Christmas Eve (because I couldn’t wait), my nephew opened Everything for a Dog, Because of Winn Dixie and Love That Dog. I worry that I overstepped and pushed books in a way that might have been overwhelming. But, he did start reading right away and when I saw him the next day, his books were stacked in a pile, smallest to largest on the family room bookshelf for all to see.

In our house, there are piles of books everywhere. My books cover the kitchen counter and the table beside my bed. The girl’s books take their place on the bench that surrounds our kitchen table and then there are more on their beds. My husband’s magazines and newspaper cover our couch. But this was the first time that I saw my nephew make a stack of books. I can’t wait to go back to his house and see new books sitting atop the stack. Old Yeller, anyone?


Stacey Loscalzo is a mother of two girls, book reviewer for Great New Books, and former reading specialist in New Jersey, just outside New York City. Stacey always has a book going, and has counted reading as her favorite hobby for as long as she can remember.