Gift Guide 2015 Day 12: Books to Read Aloud

Black Dog

by Levi Pinfold

We often hear you have nothing to fear but fear itself, but sometimes (quite often, in fact), that fear takes on a mind of its own and plays tricks on us. This phenomenon is explored in Levi Pinfold's charming picture book, Black Dog.
One day, a large black dog arrives outside the Hope family's home.  As each family member reports their sighting of the dog, the unexpected visitor grows with gargantuan proportions. It takes the smallest member of the family, named Small of course, to show the true nature of the beast. 
Childhood quite often is a time of fears, whether of storms, the dark, or even dogs. But young readers will enjoy the fact that Small is the hero, the one member of the family who shows no fear and keeps things in perspective. Whatever your young readers fears are, sharing this book together just may help to shrink the size of the monsters under the bed. 

In this Issue


Black Dog Art Books

With this week's art activity, young reader can create their own version of Black Dog. In the finished books, they can see a dog of their creation grow or shrink in size. Drawing, fine motor, explores size based on the concept of a flip book. get to be illustrators, make their own version of black dog. they can use their creativity to turn a plain, everyday circle into a dog. Some readers will want to create their dog simply by drawing detail, others may want to create it with scraps of paper or yarn; embellish the pages with backgrounds, or leave s single dog on the page. 

For our example books, we cut panels from brown paper grocery bags, but you could use panels of a cereal box, construction paper, card stock, or plain printer paper, whatever catches the eye of your young book maker, as long as you are able to make five pages from your chosen material. If you use something like the brown paper bags or cereal boxes, you might want to have the "pages" cut and ready to go before the book making session begins. 

Black Dog Art Books - Black Dog by Levi Pinfold -

Black Dog Art Books - Black Dog by Levi Pinfold -

Black Dog Art Books - Black Dog by Levi Pinfold -

Black Dog Art Books - Black Dog by Levi Pinfold -

Black Dog Art Books - Black Dog by Levi Pinfold -

Black Dog Art Books

Suggested Supplies

  • 5 pages for your book, see note above
  • Markers or crayons
  • 4 round containers in various sizes. Depending on the level of your young reader, it's fun to involve them in the search for the various sizes
  • Any additional art supplies
  • Stapler
  1. Cut out or collect the pages for your book.
  2. Trace one circle on each page. Each page will have one circle, a different size on each page.
  3. Using desired art materials, invite young readers to transform each circle into a dog. 
  4. With the fifth page, create a cover for you book.
  5. Place place your book pages in your desired order, and staple to bind. 


More Fun with Sizes

After reading Black Dog and enjoying this week's art activity, it's the perfect time to continue exploring sizes. Not only is it fun, it helps children explore spatial relationships and comparative adjectives like big, bigger, and biggest!


Young artists can paint their own Russian Nesting Dolls, or Matryoshka, then spend hours playing with a toy that they had a hand in creating!



Make a set of fabric nesting dolls that double as puppets with this free tutorial from Etsy. Then use your Cardboard Box Puppet Theater for many extraordinary performances! 


The Hope Family's Tea and Toast

Tea and toast is on the menu at the Hope's house on the morning of the Black Dog's arrival. We think making your own tea and toast is the prefect breakfast or snack to enjoy during your own black dog adventure! 

This recipe is perfect to make with your young readers; it requires only two bowls and there are many opportunities for young reader assistance, from measuring to mixing, to tasting, of course!

To help engage your young reader in the cooking process, download and print your own copy of this recipe, illustrated and written for young cooks. The full recipe with complete instructions (just as it is below) is also included on the print-out.  

Download the Applesauce-Oatmeal Bread Illustrated Recipe

Applesauce Oatmeal Bread - Black Dog by Levi Pinfold -

Applesauce Oatmeal Bread - Black Dog by Levi Pinfold -

Applesauce Oatmeal Bread


  • 1 2/3 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and oats until combined.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, egg, and applesauce until combined.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. 
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until tester inserted in center comes out clean. After five minutes, remove bread from pan to a cooling rack to cool completely. 


From Young Readers

Two young readers had a preview of this week's art activity, and here's what they made!

We would love to know or see what you and your young reader have been up to! Let us know in the comments or on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram. Use #booksofftheshelf so we can see any book adventures you have taken!



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