The other day I was walking by my bookshelves and this wonderful book called the Senator and Me: A Dog’s Eye-View of Washington D.C. caught my attention. Again! It was so timely because I have been editing a website that helps children understand government procedures.
The late Senator Edward M. Kennedy wrote this really cute book which is narrated by Splash, his Portuguese Water dog. The book’s introduction says that he was inspired to write this book after seeing so many children in the corridors of the Capitol over the years. He wanted them to know what legislators actually do and what their lives are like on a daily basis.
Splash, his beloved dog, went to work with the Senator every day and he amuses readers with his many adventures in and around the Capitol Building. Splash, affectionately called Splashie by the Senator, was also cuddled and loved by the other employees in the building. They expected to see him when they saw the Senator. He knew how to behave so he could stay in the meetings and watch all of the proceedings.
The book is beautifully illustrated by the Caldecott Award Winner, David Small. His drawings help to show the joyous bond between Splash and the Senator. Both are always seen smiling and this gives the book a jovial tone.
Splash tells how the Senator and his wife drove to a dog farm in Virginia in search of a good companion. He wanted a Portuguese Water dog because they are strong, smart, excellent swimmers and very loyal to their masters. The Senator noticed Splash’s leadership skills.
Splash says, “And one dog stood out from all the others. He was a leader. He walked with confidence and looked after the other dogs. His real name was Champion Amigo’s Seventh Wave, but because he loved the water, everyone called him, “Splash”. And that dog was Me!”
When they first arrive in Washington D.C., Splash is looking out of the car window. He is excited as he views the White House; the Lincoln Memorial; the Kennedy Center; the Washington Monument and then the Capitol Building, itself.
Splash accompanies the Senator as he goes to work each day. They play a little fetch on the lawn and they are in the office by 8:45 sharp every morning. Splash has learned to be very quiet so he can stay close to the Senator. He is allowed to go to most places with the Senator but not on the Senate floor. He has to sit outside and wait until the voting is over.
On one occasion, the two chambers of Congress were in a heated debate over an education bill. Splash listened and listened and when he could not take the bickering anymore, he barked twice as if to say, ‘enough.’ Everyone stopped and looked at him and laughed. It interrupted the quibbling and the two chambers did come to a consensus.
Splash explains how the Senator was elected and his basic duties. The colorful sketches of the Rotunda or the tram help children envision the inside of the Capitol Building. It was clever of the Senator to use Splash as a narrator because children love dogs and will be more inclined to listen to what he has to say.
This is a charming book and I am quite certain that Splash and the Senator brought comfort to each other in real life. I am glad that I revisited it. And now that it has fallen into my hands, again, I will refer it the others working on the government website. Our children need this informative yet light take on life as a legislator at the Capitol Building.
Lynn January 2, 2015