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Cover image for This book just ate my dog!
This book just ate my dog!
First American edition.
New York : Henry Holt and Company, 2014.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 26 cm
General Note:
"First published in hardcover in 2014 by Oxford University Press"--Copyright page.
"When her dog disappears into the gutter of the book, Bella calls for help. But when the helpers disappear too, Bella realizes it will take more than a tug on the leash to put things right"-- Provided by publisher.
Program Information:
AR 1.4 0.5.

Accelerated Reader AR LG 1.4 0.5 172406.


Call Number
JP Byr

On Order



When her dog disappears into the gutter of the book, Bella calls for help. But when the helpers disappear too, Bella realizes it will take more than a tug on the leash to put things right. Cleverly using the physicality of the book, This book just ate my dog! is inventive, ingenious, and just pure kid-friendly fun!

Author Notes

Richard Byrne is the author and illustrator of the Oxfordshire Book Award-winner The Really, Really, Really Big Dinosaur . He grew up in Brighton and learned to color at Eastbourne. He worked in graphic design before discovering his true passion in children's books.

Reviews 6

School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 2-This book gives new meaning to pictures being lost in the gutter. Bella takes her dog for a walk across the spread. She makes it to the next page, but her pet doesn't-he begins to disappear into the middle of the book. Bella tells her friend Ben what happened, and he tries to investigate but gets lost himself. A dog rescue car, a fire truck, and a police car all come to help but vanish into the middle as well, so the child finally goes in to check it out herself. A note then appears from Bella, telling readers to turn and shake the book. Everything and everyone come out, and all is set right again-almost. Byrne's comical play on the book's gutter will entertain kids and adults. The subtle background is done in a muted palette so the focus remains on the action and the vivid characters in the foreground. This book will make for a good one-on-one reading, giving children an opportunity to save the day. Pair it with Herve Tullet's Press Here (Chronicle, 2011) to afford children the chance to participate actively with the story.-Emily E. Lazio, The Smithtown Special Library District, NY (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

Byrne's (The Really, Really, Really Big Dinosaur) comedy gets its mileage from a single joke, but his pacing is skillful and his humor sweet-tempered. Bella wears a knit cap and a sensible dress as she takes her gigantic spotted dog for a "stroll across the page." As the dog approaches the center of the spread, where the two pages meet, "something very odd happened." Bella looks back to see that the dog's front half has disappeared into the book's gutter, followed quickly by the rest of it; Bella is left yanking a leash that disappears between facing pages. It's an effective visual trick, and it continues to draw grins as people and vehicles follow Bella's dog into two-dimensional oblivion. Bella's friend Ben disappears ("Ben decided to investigate"), followed by the dog rescue van, the police and fire brigade ("Things were getting ridiculous"), and, finally, by Bella herself. A note asks the reader to shake the book sideways, which restores order-almost. It's quick, fizzy entertainment, good as a waiting-room read or an addition to the bedtime pile. Ages 3-6. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Horn Book Review

Opening pages hint that this book will be "naughty" before the story begins -- and then Bella's dog disappears into the gutter on their "stroll across the page." As the pages turn, Bella can only stand on each right-hand page and gape as every offer of help (from a boy named Ben, a rescue vehicle, the police, and the fire brigade) also disappears into the gutter. "I'll just have to sort this out myself, thought Bella," and she follows everyone into that ominous crack in the center of the book. ("BURP!") Fortunately, Bella isn't gone long before a note falls out of the gutter inviting readers to get involved. Turning the book and giving it a good shake or two releases the gutter's victims, and all is well except for some lingering humorous trouble with the right-hand pages. Cartoon illustrations in reds and blues and a succinct text work together in an effective design, building the dramatic humor. An illustrator's aim is to keep important parts of the story out of a picture book's gutter, and this funny, interactive book is a superbly self-aware -- in more ways than one -- exemplar of what not to do. julie roach (c) Copyright 2015. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

A carnivorous book invites readers to participate. The book opens with an unseen little girl named Bella calling from within the book to her dog, asleep on the copyright page. Presumably, Bella passed the gutter of the book without event, but this proves confusing given what happens to her dog. As the tragically obedient dog crosses the gutter, it disappears. While Bella is aware that she's in a book, the background illustration could easily be interpreted as the sidewalk of a nondescript street (a less confusing choice may have been a text or white-space background, la David Wiesner's The Three Pigs). Once her dog disappears completely, various other characters come to help but are also consumed by the book. Eventually, so is Bella, but she sends a note to readers from...beyond...requesting that readers turn the book 90 degrees and shake it. Lo and behold, all the characters fall out, and all ends well. This happy ending presents another mystery: If all those characters were "eaten" by the book, how could they simply fall out? The metafictive picture book has ceased to be a novelty and become its own, increasingly substantial genre, which poses an existential crisis of sorts for it. If metafiction becomes ho-hum ordinary, is it still doing its job? Misses the mark. (Picture book. 4-7) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Here's a piece of metafiction ideal for those who have recently mastered physical books. A little girl named Bella is taking her dog for a stroll across the page when the gutter of the actual book that seam where the two pages meet sucks up half of the dog, and then the whole darn thing. While Bella stands agog with her leash, her pal Ben shows up to help, but he ends up disappearing into the gutter, too. After the dog-rescue van, fire engine, and police car all vanish the same way, Bella stomps into the void herself. Then, a note flies out of the gutter instructing the reader to lift the book and shake it until all of the characters fall out. And, in two funny vertical spreads, they do. What begins as an existential absurdity ends as an excuse to throttle a book, but it's all good fun. Byrne's use of two-page spreads as a stretch of sidewalk is clever, and the surprise of his melon-headed characters will be reproduced in his readers.--Kraus, Daniel Copyright 2014 Booklist

New York Review of Books Review

HAVE YOUR KIDS GONE META? Do they Call their neighborhood jungle gym a "play structure"? Do they mix and match their dress-up garb - a tiara here, firefighter's boots there - with a sense of mischief that might, unnervingly, be termed "ironic"? Have they spotted the clown at the neighbor's birthday party removing his wig and slinking out the side door? They're probably not ready for the labyrinthine tricksterism of David Foster Wallace or Spike Jonze. But on the evidence of a recent spate of highly self-conscious picture books, it would seem that the suspended-disbelief state of early childhood is adapting to the wink-wink, nudge-nudge sensibility of our moment. It's not surprising. There has long been a strain of subversion in picture books - think of Maurice Sendak and Tomi Ungerer, among others - alongside the dominant anodyne snuggliness of the form. Now, sophisticated cheekiness appears to have gone mainstream. These five specimens of reinvention deftly pop the bubbles of their own illusory worlds, drawing attention to the artifices of their norms and aiming to teach children to become not just book lovers but pint-size "consumers of text." The best of these books, luckily, manage to find fresh magic in demystification, and to delight kids while spinning the heads of their grown-up companions. The endpapers of "This Book Just Ate My Dog!" by the British writer and illustrator Richard Byrne, are covered with the repeated apology "I promise not to be a naughty book," written out in a simulation of an errant child's scrawl. In its opening spread we find elfin, round-faced, shabby-chic-dressed Bella prancing across the right-hand page, and leading a friendly cow-like dog, situated on the left-facing page, by a leash. "Bella was taking her dog for a stroll across the page when" (turn the page) "something very odd happened." Half the dog vanishes in the space between the two pages - the crease book designers call "the gutter." Odd things do indeed transpire when one reads books. On the next spread, as Bella yanks the leash, the dog disappears entirely. The two sides of the book are not continuous with each other, and Byrne has transformed the fold between them into a kind of portal, emptying to an imagined nether region. All who try to make the crossing - a concerned friend, emergency vehicles, even perplexed Bella - vanish through the book's exposed scaffolding. To set matters straight, the reader is enlisted to twist the irreverent book sideways and shake its characters out of oblivion, a moment of participatory theater that feels like its own bit of naughty fun. "A Perfectly Messed-Up Story," by Patrick McDonnell, also concerned with boundary-breeching, unfolds on classically metafictional terrain. An amorphously shaped, pajama-clad boy named Louie sets out to be a character in an ordinary picture book, "skipping merrily along" and singing "Tra la la," when his path is interrupted by gobs of food descending from an unseen reader. Louie is indignant. "Who would eat a jelly sandwich while reading my book?" As the abuse continues - dirty fingers, orange juice and crayon markers besmirch the page - Louie addresses his condition with world-weary tones of pathos. "I'm just in a messy old book that will end up in some garage sale," he says, in what might be considered a "Toy Story" moment, if not a Brechtian one. The pleasures of watching a book depart from its conventions and address its sticky-fingered reader will tickle even the littlest postmodernist. The peanut butter stains don't hurt. Kelly Bingham and the illustrator Paul O. Zelinsky are on a mission to raise awareness of genre to a level of madcap chicanery. Their first book together, "Z Is for Moose," imagined a collision between a poker-faced alphabet book and a goofy animal romp. This one, "Circle, Square, Moose," purports to be a benign primer in geometry - a "shapes" book - opening with a spot-on parody of a pablum-textured instructional voice. Before long, though, the rambunctious moose trespasses onto the text and tramples its decorum. The comedy is rather broad, but reaches a pitch of surreal delirium as a zebra and a crazed cat join the fray. Adults who have slogged like prisoners through the pieties of self-serious picture books will find the anarchy refreshing; kids will recognize the mash-up world they were born into. B.J. Novak's "The Book With No Pictures" is the most conceptually radical of these books, doing away altogether with the medium's defining element: There's not an illustration to be found here. Novak, a writer and actor best known for his role on "The Office," spoofs the reverent silence of visually lush, text-free books like Tao Nyeu's "Wonder Bear" and Jerry Pinkney's "The Lion and the Mouse," making the refreshing and contrarian case that words alone have sensory and imaginative vibrancy to spare. "It might seem like no fun to have someone read you a book with no pictures," admits a page of black type set against a blinding white background. What's fun, though, is to be let in on trade secrets. "Here is how books work," the confiding typeface continues. "Everything the words say, the person reading the book has to say." An aging semiotician might approve this recognition of the reader's complicity with a book's invisible agenda. For his part, Novak exploits the seeing-through device with abandon. The (presumably adult) reader is made to sing, issue nonsense sounds, extol the superiority of the child who is being read to, and say things like "I am a monkey who taught myself to read" (the favorite moment in my home). It's a raucous and illuminating gag, a formalist free-for-all, even if it wears a bit thin on repeated readings. The main character of "The Jacket," the first picture book by Kirsten Hall and the illustrator Dasha Tolstikova, is named Book. Book is a teal rectangle with soft, wide-apart eyes and a pencil stroke of a smile, uncannily resembling the cover of "The Jacket" itself when the jacket has been removed. This book is a revelation, seamlessly blending the cleverness of its conceit with the virtues of captivating storytelling. Book is lonely until he is discovered by a reader, "the girl," in whose hands he finds his place. Such bliss can't last, though. For "the truth was that there was someone else whom the girl really loved, too" - her dog, Egg Cream, represented as a shaggy blur. Book is nearly put out of commission by his rival, until the girl repairs him through a creative act that completes both Book's jacket and "The Jacket" (the book). It's as poignant as it is smart. The beauty of Tolstikova's pastel-tinged illustrations, whose manner changes from page to page and suggests both childlike simplicity and a quiet mastery of modernist color and design, shows there's more to a book than its concept. MARK LEVINE, a poet, teaches at the Iowa Writers' Workshop.