A Dog is a Dog by Stephen Shaskan

Hi, Stephen Shaskan! Thanks for dropping by Watch. Connect. Read. First of all, congratulations on your new picture book, A Dog is a Dog. I've read it to two kindergarten classes and one first-grade class. It enchanted every audience. You could hear giggles and laughter throughout the library---a sure sign of a successful read-aloud.

Thank you for answering my students' questions. They will be thrilled to read your responses.

I was on a plane flying home from Florida. My Mom and Dad live in Florida. I always bring my sketchbook wherever I go. I am constantly writing and drawing. I came up with a rhythm with the words “a dog is a dog”. From that rhythm I started to rhyme. I started to think of all the things a dog could be and still be a dog. So it started out as a lot of opposites. Then I thought, when isn’t a dog a dog? The answer was when it’s a cat. From there I just thought of more and more ridiculous things.

I’m glad you think they’re funny! Thank you! I love the way the dog is naughty, the cat hisses, the squid gets stuck, and how the moose runs. My personal favorite is the cat, because it is based on my cat, Eartha. Who is very naughty, and who I love very much.

That is a tough question. I love drawing. I would draw even if I didn’t make money doing it. Up until recently that has been the case. I love how kids react to my drawings, and I like not having to leave my house to go to work.

Thank you for reading my book for Picture Book Month. I’m honored.
The picture books that I remember the best are Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, One Monster After Another by Mercer Meyer, If I Ran the Zoo by Dr. Seuss, Put Me in the Zoo by Robert Lopshire, and The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone and Mike Smollin.

I celebrate Picture Books everyday! I’m a preschool teacher, mostly substitute teacher now, so I read Picture Books all the time. I go to the Library once a week and check out fifteen to twenty-five Picture Books every week. I start at the beginning of the alphabet (at our library the books are alphabetical by author), and go through a few shelves. Each week I continue where I left off, until I have to start all over again. By the time I start over there are lots of new books I haven’t seen! I love Picture Books. I just got eighteen new ones today at the library, and I’m going to go read them right now!

That is an important question. Motivation is very important to any character in any story. It’s the big WHY. I hope my art shows the dog to be really silly, and I think putting on all these costumes, one on top of the other is a pretty silly thing to do. So his motivation was to be silly. When I was 5 I thought it was pretty silly to wear lots of hats on my head.

I’m so happy that you love my book! When you are writing a book it’s easy to give it to friends, and family because most of the time they are going to love it, and they should. That’s what friends and family are for. It’s different when lots of strangers are reading it, but it also shows me that my friends and family were right!

I love dogs too, but don’t tell my cat Eartha, she’ll get jealous.
I grew up around dogs and cats. My family always had both. I love both cats, and dogs.

Stephen Shaskan holds a BFA in Illustration from Rhode Island School of Design. Since graduating, and moving to Minnesota, Stephen has done freelance illustrations for advertising agencies, and poster designs for local bands, theater companies/productions and area events. Stephen has also worked with children, teaching art classes through the Minnesota Museum of American Art, St. Paul Academy, and Minneapolis Public Schools. For the past nine years Stephen has worked in Early Childhood Education, and focused his art on children’s book illustrating. (Bio taken from here.)

Borrow A Dog is a Dog from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops.


  1. What a fun interview! Steve is just as charming as his book! :)


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