Books Picture Books

Sometimes Love is Under Your Foot by Colin Thompson

This one is a fairly simple tale of the love that exists between a dog (Kevin) and his master (Brian). The illustrations are not as elaborate as The Last Alchemist but it speaks of a special kind of bond between a dog and his human, that is perhaps known only to those who have really raised dogs like one of their own children.

We could look further into subtexts and submeanings within the storyline, but essentially it is what it is.

The story begins with a description of Brian, Classic Male that he is, who likes wearing big shoes. And like Big strong Men who make a point of wearing Big Shoes (ehem big bikes, big speakers, big cars), he is Too Much of a Male to speak candidly about his feelings – so he pretends that feelings do not exist, and he makes a habit of ignoring the people (and animal) who love him the most. Because you see, he’s a Man’s Man. And “real men” don’t discuss that sort of thing.

Until Brian becomes very ill.. and here the story could be linked to Margery Williams’ Velveteen Rabbit, with Kevin providing much-needed comfort to Brian. Formerly disallowed from staying in the master’s bedroom, Brian seeks out the comfort of Kevin’s warm cuddling.

At its core, the book is a poignant tale of a love that does not “dare speak its name”, a long-suffering lover (in the form of a dog) who is eager to please and do anything for a loved one regardless of how ill-treated she happens to be, and a man who realizes all this only in his deathbed.

This would be a good book to read if the teachers or parents are introducing the concept of having pets and caring for them and making children realize that animals have feelings too. It also encourages one to be expressive of their emotions, given the fleeting nature of life and how transient everything is. Perfect for young children aged 4-7 years old, especially those with dogs around the house. The subtexts and subthemes, however, are pretty universal and ageless.

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

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