Random Review #3: Good Dog, Carl

Kids books. It blows my mind what people will publish, and it’s even more confusing what becomes popular. In this weekly segment, we will randomly review a book Baby 1.0 picks off her bookshelf.

This week Baby 1.0 picked another one of her all time favorites, Good Dog, Carl, by Alexandra Day. This is another oldie but goodie (we seem to have a lot of those), with the first edition being published in 1986. Surprisingly, there is no teal, and the mother in the book is tastefully dressed and suspiciously lacking a bang wave. This clearly indicates she must be French or something, because no average American mother in 1986 didn’t have either a bang wave or a sweet perm. Or both.


It’s an almost bang wave, and a bangin’ perm. Gotta love the ’80’s!

Let’s start with the title, Good Dog, Carl. Can we just sort of touch on what a bizarre name choice “Carl” is for a dog? After working in the veterinary field for nearly a decade, I can honestly say I didn’t come across a single animal named Carl. Or even any people named Carl, for that matter, except the kid on the Walking Dead, which I think we can all agree should be named something more realistic, like Walter. Odd name choice aside, you see Carl smiling from the cover, as only a Rottweiler can, with big jowls and squinty eyes, his big pink tongue hanging out of an open mouth that contains no teeth. With all this talk about breed discrimination, nobody would be scared of Rotties if they all looked like toothless Carl.


Suspiciously missing all of his teeth, but smiling none the less.

Fun fact about this book, it only has 12 words total in it. This being a book from my own childhood, I did not remember this, and the first time I went to read it to Baby 1.0, I thought maybe we had a received a book that was accidentally printed without text. Apparently, this is just one of those stories you have to narrate yourself, which is something I’m getting considerably better at each time I read it 15 times a day.

The book starts off with the mom telling Carl she’s taking off, and he’s on baby duty. This seems like an extreme form of whatever the opposite of attachment parenting is, but again, maybe this is the French way of teaching your kid how to be resilient? I know there was a popular book floating around a year or so ago about how the French raise their kids, but I didn’t read it because T.V.

Mom leaves, and right away Carl is like “Hey Baby. How about you and me go do some crazy shit?” which of course the baby is totally down with because he thinks his mom is boring. Whether or not she is boring should probably the least of his concerns considering she left him with a dog as a babysitter, but whatever, I’m not judging.

out of crib

“Climb on Baby. Let’s go live a little”

The baby crawls onto Carl’s back and they go and jump on the bed. This doesn’t bother me so much because even with the popular cautionary tale “No More Monkeys Jumping On The Bed,” we still sort of jump on the bed from time to time. After jumping on the bed, they put on makeup, which also seems pretty harmless. I think this is where Carl is trying to win the baby’s trust, like “It’s cool, Baby. See? I know you think this is bad, but aren’t you having fun?”

Then things get serious. Carl puts the baby down the laundry shoot, which could go wrong in so many ways, but lucky for the baby, his mom doesn’t ever do laundry so the bin is full, and provides him a soft place to land. Carl retrieves him and in an attempt to one-up himself, puts the baby in a fish tank to either teach him to swim, or give him salmonella.

laundry shoot

“Down you go Baby. Try not to die.”

I have to think the baby expressed some sort of grievance about nearly drowning, because after that Carl backs off on the risky behaviors. He puts some music on and dances, and then takes the baby into the kitchen for a little snack. He fills the baby up with all kinds of goodies, including chocolate milk, cookies and grapes. The baby is obviously dirty as all hell now, and probably smells like a fish tank, so Carl takes him upstairs and bathes him. He drys him off with a hair dryer, and dumps him back in his crib. Then, like a good dog, he cleans up the messes they made and plops himself down next to the crib just as the mom returns.


Show me a dog who can bathe and blow dry a baby, and I will show you a rainbow of joy leaping out of my, um, ears.

It seems obvious to me now, after writing all this out, that this book clearly is not about a dog at all, but rather her deadbeat husband named Carl, or her crazy Aunt Edna who smokes Menthols. Regardless, we both really like the book. I give it a 4/5.


Image credits:

Cover photo: http://www.beyondthecarseat.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Good_Dog_Carl.jpg

80’s Mom: http://i.imgur.com/1Ai0vQ5.jpg

Laundry: http://i037.radikal.ru/0909/8d/d6b3760e77f3.jpg

Crib escape: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_AjI3qIR27fU/TGXtXD-oUSI/AAAAAAAAEqk/_bGoigFVFUs/s1600/2b6fe9e8ff01.jpg

Blow dryer: http://amybronwenzemser.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Good-Dog-Carl-blowdryer.jpg


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