Scooter in the Outside by Anne Bowen (illustrated by Abby Carter)
*Picture book, contemporary for preschool through first graders
*Scooter the dog as main character
*Rating: Kids will love Scooter in the Outside and see a bit of themselves in this dog without knowing it. That’s the best kind of picture book. Scooter is exploring his independence–something children are doing all the time with mixed results!
Short, short summary: Scooter the dog belongs to Lucy. He loves to go for walks, but they only go so far each time–to the corner. Scooter wants to go farther (Editor’s note: My 18-month-old daughter can really relate to this; we are constantly stopping her from doing all sorts of dangerous, independent things!), but Lucy won’t let him. One day, the front door is left open, and Scooter goes out and GOES AROUND THE CORNER! Then, he becomes a bit scared at what he encounters. Luckily, he also encounters Lucy, and she brings him home. It’s a rather sweet ending, especially for anyone who has a dog that is a member of the family.
So, what do I do with this book?
1. Scooter in the Outside is definitely a fun read. Bowen has included some onomatopoeia: “Ba-Dump” is Scooter running up the stairs. “Thwappa” is wagging his tail, and so on. Plus the illustrations are lovely, and children will like to look at them and discuss what Lucy and Scooter are doing in each. I highly recommend reading this to a class or as a bedtime story.
2. Discuss with children how Scooter felt once he went to THE OTHER SIDE. Why did he feel that way? Why did Lucy put limits on him? See if they can make the connection between Lucy and Scooter and what you do for them either as their parent or teacher. Why is it important to have limits/boundaries?
3. The bond between a pet and his owner is something special. Children will want to share information about their pets after reading this book. Allow them to draw and write a sentence or two about something they love to do with their pets. If students do not have a pet, they can draw an activity they like to do with a friend OR you can visit a humane society OR have some guest dogs come into the classroom–then all children can draw about pets.