A missing tennis ball leads to a lesson in American history for golden retriever Dubs in this children’s book by Morris, McGann and Liotta.
When Dubs discovers that his prized tennis ball has rolled away, he sets off on a mission to find it. The journey takes him throughout Washington, D.C., from the Lincoln Memorial to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and to just about every point-of-interest in between. At each stop, before resuming the search for his tennis ball, Dubs reflects on the meaning or purpose of the site and how it personally affects him. While gazing up at the columns of the U.S. Supreme Court building, Dubs considers how “[i]f another dog took away my ball / the court would get it / back for me after all.” At the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Dubs thinks, “If people are equal, can it possibly be / That dogs are too,…especially me?” By having Dubs not just recite what each site is and its role in American history but also briefly explain how the buildings or the actions of the people being memorialized personally affect him, the authors make it easier for children to relate to the imposing federal buildings and monuments. The rhyming scheme, though at times a bit clunky (“Dubs stopped by to visit the White House / To see the president and his lovely spouse”) keep the tone light, as does the missing tennis ball. Young readers will have fun searching for the bright yellow ball—always just out of Dubs’ sight—in each of the illustrations. The illustrations, by Liotta, both capture the playful side of Dubs and, at times, the solemnity of the monuments he visits. Each drawn from a different angle, they invite readers in for a closer look. At the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, for example, Dubs hides beneath the folds of FDR’s cape, growling at Fala, the president’s Scottish terrier, who is also memorialized. At the World War II memorial, with his back to us, Dubs sits peacefully, surrounded by green memorial wreaths. The illustrations, coupled with the breadth of sites that Dubs visits, (15 in all), will keep readers interested while they learn about history and help Dubs find his tennis ball.
A fun adventure that introduces young children to American history.