The Bookshop Dog

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Everyone who comes to Martha Jane's Bookshop comes to see Martha Jane. But Martha Jane is not the owner. She's the owner's dog! When the owner has to go to the hospital to get her tonsils out, the whole town begins to fight over the chance to take care of Martha Jane. Rylant is the Newbery-winning author of Dog Heaven. Full color.

When Martha Jane's owner falls ill and has to go to the hospital, the inhabitants of her small town ...

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Overview

Everyone who comes to Martha Jane's Bookshop comes to see Martha Jane. But Martha Jane is not the owner. She's the owner's dog! When the owner has to go to the hospital to get her tonsils out, the whole town begins to fight over the chance to take care of Martha Jane. Rylant is the Newbery-winning author of Dog Heaven. Full color.

When Martha Jane's owner falls ill and has to go to the hospital, the inhabitants of her small town bicker over who will care for the beloved dog.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A sweet tale of canine love... in tight, gentle lyrical prose, woven with plenty of tongue-in-cheek humor, Rylant tells not only a story of a shop and its keepers, but of an entire community possessing loads of good will." -Kirkus
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Business is booming at Martha Jane's Bookshop, because everyone in town loves Martha Jane, the owner's dog. In fact, they love her so much that when the owner gets sick and needs a dog-sitter, fights break out over who should do the honors. Martha Jane helps settle things amicablyand nets her owner a husband in the process. It's a diverting tale, and Rylant delivers it with an understated sense of humor. Her illustrations, on the other hand, might dazzle a peacock with their loud combinations of clashing colors. As in her self-illustrated Dog Heaven and The Whales, she substitutes a faux-primitive style for a mastery of draftsmanship. Not only do the pictures fail to add anything to what's told in the text, they in fact detract from the careful crafting of the prose. Ages 3-up. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Pat Metz
Martha Jane belongs to the woman who owns the bookshop and is loved by her and everyone else in the town. When Martha Jane's owner has to go to the hospital, many of the inhabitants start bickering over whom will get to take care of Martha Jane. Ultimately, Martha Jane makes this choice herself, but the story doesn't end there. Cute, child-like illustrations are bound to please.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3The owner of "Martha Jane's Bookshop" loves her dog so much that she has named her store after the pup. This causes come confusion, as everyone thinks Martha Jane is the proprietor. The action in the tale springs from the hospitalization of the unnamed owner, and the neighborhood's competition to care for Martha Jane. Finally the pooch chooses a man who often brings her a bone. "The woman and the big man liked each other so much that they got married. Martha Jane went on the honeymoon, of course." Martha Jane is the star of this tale, and the humans around her, including the interracial newlyweds, are cardboard. Rylant's full-color illustrations are deep-hued and childlike, with vivid decorated borders surrounding each spread. Their effect is primitive and pleasing. The language, however, is void of Rylant's typical sense of play or poetry. The message, that adults can come together through the love of a dog, lacks insight. Martha Jane is a stolid protagonist, but pales in the shadow of Martha in Susan Meddaugh's Martha Speaks (Houghton, 1992). In the end, this tale is simply a paean to a puppy. There is little tension to grab young audiences.Carolyn Noah, Central Mass. Regional Library System, Worcester, MA
Kirkus Reviews
A sweet tale of canine love. Martha Jane is a yellow lab. Her owner loves her so much that she takes her everywhere, and names her business after her: "Martha Jane's Bookshop." But when the woman learns that she must go to the hospital for a tonsillectomy, she worries. Who will take care of Martha Jane? A brawl ensues, as the dog's many friends vie for the privilege of caring for her. Then one of Martha Jane's most ardent admirers arrives. "He knelt down beside Martha Jane and stroked her smooth head and kissed her warm white face and told her what an angel dog she was." Martha Jane chooses this man, and so does the woman: She marries him.

In tight, gently lyrical prose, woven with plenty of tongue- in-cheek humor, Rylant (The Old Woman Who Named Things, p. 452, etc.) tells not only a story of a shop and its keepers, but of an entire community possessing loads of good will. Rylant's visual depiction of Martha Jane is ever so appealing, and if the primitive illustrations don't please everyone, the story and its sentiments certainly will.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780590543316
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/28/1996
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD840L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.79 (w) x 10.26 (h) x 0.34 (d)

Meet the Author


As a child in West Virginia, Cynthia Rylant never dreamed of becoming a writer. In her free time, she devoured Archie comic books and paperback romances and enjoyed the outdoors. But after taking one college English class, she was, “hooked on great writing… I didn’t know about this part of me until I went to college-didn’t know I loved beautiful stories.” And one night, inspired by the Southern writer James Agee, she sat down and wrote When I Was Young in the Mountains. Named a Caldecott Honor Book and an ALA Notable Book, it was an instant success.

Since that night, Rylant hasn’t stopped creating wonderful books. Her stories explore friendship, love, grief, and other mysteries, and often draw on her memories of growing up in Appalachia. “I get a lot of personal gratification thinking of those people who don’t get any attention in the world and making them really valuable in my fiction-making them absolutely shine with their beauty.”

She lives with her many pets in the Pacific Northwest.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2014

    Highly Recommended, a beautiful story

    This is an adorable book about a cute dog and his owner and a bookstore.
    I highly recommend this book it is a beautiful story about caring, giving and love. Great for age 4 and above. I love this story myself and love to read it to my Grandchildren.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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