Early Bilingual Book for Children: “My Dog is Lost” by Ezra Jack Keats

Fats here.

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My Dog is Lost

Story and illustrations by Ezra Jack Keats and Pat Cherr
First edition published in 1960 by Thomas Y. Crowell (now Viking)
ISBN-10: 0140565698
ISBN-13: 978-0140565690
Copy provided by Hudson Library & Historical Society.

From the jacket flap of the book: Juanito and his family have lived in New York for just two days, and he has already lost his only friend, his dog Pepito. But Pepito’s not an ordinary dog—he’s Puerto Rican, like Juanito, and speaks Spanish, just like Juanito. How will Juanito ever explain that his dog is missing when no one in his neighborhood speaks his language?

My thoughts on the book: My Dog is Lost by Ezra Jack Keats was one of the titles that appeared when I searched for books that would fit our current theme. This book was published two years before The Snowy Day and reprinted in 1999. Adults are more likely to find the classic black and white illustrations more appealing than kids would.

My Dog is Lost follows the simple story of a boy whose dog had gone missing. It tackles the important issue of language barrier, one of the many challenges that non-English speaking immigrants in America had to overcome. Actions and visual cues proved useful for Juanito in finding his dog Pepito. This helps children understand that there is more than one way of getting a message across. In addition, the book offers diversity, not only in language but also in race, and it was a delight to see Juanito make new friends as he searches for his old one.

What makes My Dog is Lost a must-read for children is the inclusion of a few Spanish words and phrases that kids could easily learn and remember. While more bilingual children’s books have been published since then, I think My Dog is Lost would be a nice addition to any reader’s book collection.

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