Illustrated by Stella Mustanoja McCarty
"And there came a time when the abundance and happiness found on Planet Earth were threatened by people like the warrior tribes of Stone City. They had forgotten how to love. They took food, coins and beautiful objects from people and often hurt them. Their numbers began to grow and soon they were taking the homes, land, and farms where peaceful people lived.
Where once there had been harmony and friendship, there was now fear, anger, and unhappiness. Something had to be done -- but what could anybody do? No one knew it at that time, but help would come from far, far away, from Planet of the Dogs."
Planet of the Dogs by Robert J. McCarty and illustrated by Stella Mustanoja McCarty (Barking Planet Productions, 2007) is about how dogs first came to Earth, specifically to a place called Green Valley, from their own planet on the other side of the sun. It is about how dogs won the hearts of children before winning over the hearts of adults. It is about how dogs started helping people protect their families, houses, farms, and animals. It is about how dogs started helping people with loneliness and sickness. And it all started when one day, a very long time ago, the dogs saw all the problems of people and decided to help them.
This is a simple and interesting story (most especially for dog lovers like me) and it has great illustrations. However, its life lessons are too overt. For example, the messages about how people have forgotten about love and how dogs teach people about love are explicit and repeated too many times in the narration and dialogue. This distracts from the story and makes the important message of love trite. Also, the dogs in the story are adorable, but the sweetness of their parts in the story is often saccharine.
Still, I think very young children will be tickled by this story. There is adventure and excitement when the Stone City warriors try to invade Green Valley and the dogs save the day. I can see very young children being entertained if Planet of the Dogs is read aloud to them.
[My copy of Planet of the Dogs was provided by the author.]