Picturebook Review: No Dogs Allowed

No Dogs Allowed, written by Linda Ashman and illustrated by Kristin Sorra is a picturebook about a beleaguered restauranteur trying to keep his new restaurant perfect. He wants all the right customers to come and eat. However, dogs, cats, bunnies, and the other animals people seem to keep trying to bring into his restaurant certainly are not what he had in mind. Unfortunately, Alberto is so busy trying to keep the animals out, that his one customer leaves. The nearby street vendor runs out of food, serving everyone Alberto turned away. Will Alberto change and invite everyone to eat at his restaurant?

No Dogs Allowed is a fun, and beautifully illustrated book.  There are not many words, but so much to discover in the illustrations. The annoyed expressions that just about everyone wheres at some point in the story were right on. I loved the varied animals that made appearances. So a dog, cat, bunny, pet bird, or monkey might be believable as desired dining companions by there owners; but I would be amazed to see penguins, a hippopotamus, armadillo, or elephant trying to join a human companion at a restaurant for a night of fine dining.

I liked that as an adult reader I could see both sides of the story. Both the rejected diner and the restauranteur that has worked hard and wants everything to go they want they pictured it.  Unfortunately, life rarely follows our plans, and sometimes we need to just roll with the punches and make the best out of a situation that might not seem ideal.  Besides, it looked like the people and animals that Alberto turned away were having much more fun with each other than Alberto was stressing out about the animals.  And when Alberto changes his style, and restaurant's sign, everyone seems to have even more fun. I think the message of inclusion and relaxing to live in the moment is intended for the adults that might read this to or with a child as much as the children.

I recommend No Dogs Allowed for children and adults that love animals and splendid illustrations. The story could be a useful one for starting discussions about discrimination, inclusion, and the perils of being a perfectionist. I am ready to buy this book for my son, who often needs things to be his way, regardless of the facts. Children that love exploring pictures and finding new things every time they look, again like my son, will greatly enjoy reading, and rereading the story.
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