Our family loves Carl, the rottweiler in a series of children's picture books by Alexandra Day. We began reading them when Laura was a baby, starting with Carl Goes Shopping. The plot usually revolves around Carl's owners leaving him in charge of their toddler Madeleine while they go off for a few hours. Instead of staying put, Carl and the toddler take off to have little adventures, meeting friendly people who give them tasty things to eat and getting home just before the parents return. My favorite may be Carl's Christmas in which the parents go to a late night church service while Carl and the toddler wander the town's snowy streets meeting late night shoppers and carolers. The dog and child get home just in time for Santa's arrival. Santa gives Carl a nice holiday collar for being such a good dog.
Just in time for this Christmas is a new Carl book, Carl's Snowy Afternoon. Twenty years later, Madeleine is now about four years old, and the parents have actually hired a sitter to watch their child while they go to an ice skating party around a frozen pond. Of course, the sitter just watches television and does not notice Carl and the curly-headed child slip out the dog door. Adventures include attending the same ice skating party, staying just out of the parents sight. I particularly like all the snowmen and snowwomen that children make that afternoon. Carl helps Madeleine remove a carrot from one snowwoman to feed a hungry bunny.
Pictures tell the stories in these artfully illustrated books. With few words, young children, who enjoy seeing the independence that Carl and Madeleine exhibit, can read these books to their adults. There are now eleven books in the series. I recommend them all.
Day, Alexandra. Carl's Snowy Afternoon. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2009. ISBN 9780374310868