Mentor Text Review: Big Dog Little Dog

6+1 Traits Writing mentor text
  • Author: Sally Rippin
  • Illustrator: Lucinda Gifford
  • Publisher: Little Hare

Big Dog Little Dog by Sally Rippin and Lucinda Gifford is a hilarious book about how Big Dog’s life changes when Little Dog comes to join his family. This book is about friendships and unique perspectives. Anyone with background knowledge on dogs (and their lack of listening skills) will love this book.

Suggestions For Using This Mentor Text To Teach Writing:

IDEAS: The problem/solution is clear in this book- Big Dog’s life was great until the day Little Dog moved in on his territory. Solution- Little Dog has to go. The beginning, middle and end of this book could be discussed and used as a basis for students writing their own 3-page stories about a problem they’ve had with having to share with someone else. For younger writers, they could innovate on the ways Big Dog tries to get rid of Little Dog. What else could he try?

ORGANISATION: This text could be used to introduce the text structure of a narrative story. Narratives generally have a problem and a solution. In this story, the words ‘but one day’ signal the announcement of the problem. Search other picture books for evidence of similar signalling words. How does the author highlight the problem for their reader?

Suggestions For Using This Mentor Text To Teach Reading:

INFERRING: The gorgeous illustrations in this book tell a different story to the text. What can you learn about Big Dog through the images? What evidence makes you think this? Inferring requires the reader to search for unsaid information and use this to build an understanding of the story. What information has the author left out of their writing?

MAKING CONNECTIONS: Encourage students to make text-to-self connections with this story. Background knowledge significantly impacts reading comprehension. What do you already know about dogs? How does that knowledge/experience help you understand this text?

SUMMARISING: Students could practise retelling the story before compressing this into a one-line summary – what is this book mainly about?