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Scuba Dog

Illustrated by Jess Golden

Dive into this sweet story about the unlikely friendship between a scuba-diving dog and a musical whale!

This dog loves swimming in the ocean! While his dog friends jam, he makes waves. One day while swimming, he meets a whale and thinks she could be a new friend. They swim together, but he can’t hold his breath for very long.  Back on land, he has an idea: Learn how to scuba dive!  He gets the gear, passes the test, and reunites with his friend! Soon she has to leave in search of food, but she sings him a special song before she leaves. Scuba Dog misses his friend and decides to plan a special welcome back surprise for her when she returns. He teaches his dog friends to play the tune of her song, and Scuba Dog makes her a beautiful, whale-sized necklace of seaweed and kelp. The whale returns with a surprise of her own—a baby whale!

When readers meet Scuba Dog, he is just a pup who loves the water. While the other dogs like to jam on the beach, he loves to sail his boat out and go for a swim. One day, while out enjoying a swim, he meets a whale, and they soon become fast friends but can't spend any real time together. Dog decides to solve this issue by taking scuba lessons. This book explains that no matter the barrier, whether it's language, interests, or location, if kids put in the effort, they can make friends. Golden's watercolor and crayon illustrations, especially for those scenes that take place under the sea, are beautiful. The text flows perfectly over (and sometimes within) the illustrations. The rhythm of the story is simple and would work well in a storytime setting or taken home and enjoyed one-on-one. VERDICT: Readers will want to take a dive with Scuba Dog. A good choice for friendship collections.

– School Library Journal

Stephens uses the unlikely friendship between a dog and a whale to highlight the idea that "Sometimes friends don't need words." (Especially when they are underwater.) Her hero, an ocean-loving dog with white and golden fur, isn't terribly close to his fellow dogs, who prefer rocking out on land. After meeting a whale, the dog realizes that scuba lessons might let them spend more time together: "Off to the dive shop! Hit the books, and the pool. Pass the tests. Get the gear." Working in mixed media, Golden (<i>The Wheels on the Tuk Tuk</i>) brings a sweet camaraderie to the pages as the dog and whale "spin, whirl, and dive" underwater, before the whale departs. But Stephens's clipped lines don't draw much emotion out of the central relationship, and the story moves forward in fits and starts as the dog works on a craft project for his absent friend (and enlists the musician dogs' help in creating a song for her, too), before eventually getting a happy reunion.

– Publishers Weekly

Lots of directional language ("up and over," "past jumping waves") adds rhythm and movement to this story of a water-loving pup and the whale he meets underwater and tries to befriend. At a loss for how to spend more time with and express his appreciation for his new cetacean pal, our hero visits the dive shop to learn how to scuba dive. He collects shells and seaweed to fashion a heart-shaped wreath as a gift for his newfound friend, and he teaches the local beach band to play along to the whale's song in order to serenade her in a language she understands. Unconventional friendships are a staple plot of picture books, and this one adds a habitat challenge to the difficulties the characters face. Watercolors in a faded, beachy palette combine with strong curvy lines to describe a sunny seaside landscape. Though there's nothing in the way of information here, this still might make a silly companion to a discussion of marine mammals or undersea life.

– Booklist