Big Dog…Little Dog by P.D. Eastman is definitely the book from my childhood that was most frequently requested by my children when they were pre-schoolers, but it is also quite a good book for early readers.
I think its appeal is that it is very simple and slightly silly. Fred and Ted were friends. Fred was big. Ted was little. And so it goes on with differing tastes in musical instruments, food, car colours, etc. The friends run into trouble when staying at a hotel. Fred (the big one) gets a small bed and Ted (the little one) gets a big bed. Neither get any sleep and spend the next morning making ‘tall talk’ and ‘small talk’ trying to work out what to do. Finally a bird that is listening in suggests switching rooms “the bird’s got the word” (my youngest’s favourite line in the book) and all is resolved. I like the messages that friends can have different likes and dislikes and that different things suit different people.
Looking up P.D. Eastman in writing this, I found out that his son has produced a sequel called Fred and Ted go Camping. A quick look suggests that it mirrors the strengths of the original. If only my children were young enough for me to justify buying it…
I also realised that P.D. Eastman illustrated Robert the Rose Horse (another favourite from my childhood, which my children enjoyed). This is story of a horse who is allergic to roses and keeps on being moved on from place to place and losing jobs because of the chaos caused by his sneezing. It is similar, in that it is very simple and funny but also has a strong message about kindness and finding your place in the world. If you are looking for books from a simpler time – these both are oldies but goodies.