Teach Through Books: Mr. Putney’s Quacking Dog by Jon Agee

Teach Through Books: Mr. Putney’s Quacking Dog by Jon Agee

Age level: Early Elementary, Upper Elementary
Description: This is yet another great book by Jon Agee. I’ve been a fan of Agee’s wordplay books for years. I can’t help falling in love with books such as Who Ordered the Jumbo Shrimp? And Other Oxymorons, Smart Feller Fart Smeller and Other Spoonerisms, or Palindromania! But I guess I’ll have to save those for another day, because today I’m talking about Mr. Putney’s Quacking Dog, a fantastic book that introduces Mr. Putney and his strange assortment of animals. Each page introduces a new animal with a question, such as “Who wakes Mr. Putney up in the morning?” Upon turning the page, there is a humorous illustration along with the answer, in this case, “An alarmadillo.”
Skills & Modifications: Kids typically love the word play in this book. It’s a great motivator for learners who may be resistant to reading. I don’t have a lot of skills listed below, and there aren’t that many skill areas cross-referenced with the ABLLS and VB-MAPP. However, in my practice this has been an invaluable tool for motivation and fun with reading. Many of my learners with autism seek this book out during leisure time and are able to interact with it in an appropriate way. (It’s important to note, though, that if your child does not have the comprehension skill to fully understand the jokes, you may want to wait to introduce this book. It can be a great tool for students with developmental delays, but it is unlikely to be motivating if they do not understand the jokes.)

  • Picture comprehension – This is a great tool for higher-level picture comprehension. My experience has been that students enjoy talking about the pictures because they are so humorous. Frequently, the illustrations don’t just add an image to the joke, but carry the joke a step further, so you’re student can offer a great description in response to the question “What’s happening?”
  • Humor – Many students with Autism Spectrum Disorders struggle to understand humor, especially when it is linguistically intricate. I love using this as a tool because the illustrations explain so much, it can be shared with peers who also find it humorous, and it is usually easy for the child to grasp why each joke is entertaining.
  • Making predictions – This one is a little tricky to categorize, so any suggestions for the appropriate category are welcome! Because the introduction of each joke pictures the animal, it is possible for the child to predict what the answer might be, (in fact, for some students that’s half the fun!) So, in the example listed in the description section, the picture shows Mr. Putney sleeping and on his bedside an armadillo is standing next to the alarm clock. Once students get the idea of the book, some may be able to guess the answer will be “alarmadillo.”

Pros: The writing is wonderful and the illustrations are entertaining to a wide audience. While I listed this as appropriate for elementary students, I must admit that I greatly enjoy it an adult. And I appreciate that it is “smart-humor” for kids. It’s a wonderful example of playing with words for enjoyment. If you’re working with kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder, I have found that this book is motivating enough that many of my students want to SHARE the experience. This can be a great tool for social interaction with both family members and peers.
Cons: That theres’s not a sequel yet!
Cost: $16.95, but frequently less expensive on Amazon and other sites.  Should I buy this? If you’re an educator, this is a must-have for your library. Every single student I’ve introduced this to has loved it. I recommend this for parents as well. Who doesn’t love to share a laugh with their kid?
ABLLS: G4, G8, G21, G22

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