Story Summary: Circle Dogs tells the story of the daily lives of the circle shaped dogs that live in the square house. The dogs playfully engage in each moment of the day: waking up the owners, gobbling down food, barking at the doorbell, and sleeping. Finally after a long, exciting day, the circle dogs settle in for a good night’s sleep.
In this story, Kevin Henkes takes a simple concept of telling the story of a dog’s day and makes it engaging by the way he tells the story. The sentence variety, including some sentence fragments, and the conversational tone help the reader flow through the story. At points of excitment in the story, the sentences are short and choppy, and quick to read. For example, when the dogs are excitedly waking up the owner, the say, “Get up! Get up! Play with us. Now!” When the action slows down, the sentences become longer, repeating some words. For example, when the dogs settle down for a nap, “Now they sleep and sleep and sleep. Now they sleep and sleep and sleep some more.” The sentence fluency helps the reader to feel the sense of urgency or relaxation.
Another engaging part of the story is Kevin’s word choice. Kevin uses onomatopoeia to let the reader “hear” the sounds of the dogs. For example, Kevin says “Clink-clank, clink-clank, clink-clank, clink. Hear the tags?” and “Flip-flap, flip-flap. Swish, swoosh, swish,” as the dogs’ tails wag. He also uses similes to describe the dogs’ appearances, saying the dog’s triangle ears “stand up like toy soldiers,” and their tongues look like “Baby’s pink socks hanging out of their mouths.” Kevin’s careful word choices helps the reader create a mental image of the story and show what is happening.
This story helps the reader understand the importance of showing their story through writing rather than just telling. Kevin’s example in Circle Dogs can help students understand how using sentence variety and careful choice of words can make a story more entertaining.
Standard: Writing Processes
Benchmark: By the end of the K-2 program, D. Use revision strategies and resources to improve ideas and content, organization, word choice, and detail. E. Edit to improve sentence fluency, grammar, and usage.
Indicator: 6. Use a range of complete sentences, including declarative, interrogative, and exclamatory. 8. Use language for writing that is different from oral language, mimicking writing style of books when appropriate.