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Children's Fiction Emotions & Feelings

When Molly Drew Dogs

by (author) Deborah Kerbel

illustrated by Lis Xu

Owlkids Books Inc.
Initial publish date
Sep 2019
Emotions & Feelings, Dogs, Imagination & Play, Runaways, Depression & Mental Illness
Recommended Age
4 to 8
Recommended Grade
2 to 5
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2019
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


On the night before the first day of school, a pack of stray dogs moves into Molly’s head. They are friendly, but a bit wild. They scamper through her thoughts, yap at the door to her dreams, and scratch at her brain, begging to be let out. So Molly starts to draw them.

When Molly draws dogs, she feels better—but not everyone can see the value of her strange habit. Her teacher tells her to focus. A special tutor urges her to concentrate. But Molly can’t erase the dogs, even if she wants to. As her anxiety peaks, Molly runs away. Once she is found, safe and sound, people around Molly realize the protective power of her pack and how the dogs help tame her troubled feelings.

Inspired by the Japanese folktale, "The Boy Who Drew Cats," this story celebrates the healing powers of art and imagination while touching on important issues of anxiety, mental health, and ways to cope with emotions.


About the authors

Deborah Kerbel is the author of several picture books, including Before You Were Born, When Molly Drew Dogs, and the award-winning Sun Dog, as well as novels for middle grade and young adult readers. Born in London, England, she moved to Canada at the age of two and went on to attend the University of Western Ontario. Her novels have been shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Canadian Library Association YA Book of the Year, and the Manitoba Young Reader’s Choice Award. Deborah lives in Thornhill, Ontario, with her husband, two book-loving children, and a schnoodle named Alfredo.


Deborah Kerbel's profile page

LIS XU is a Chinese-Canadian artist whose main tools are ballpoint pens, pencil crayons, and watercolours. She loves creating art that reminds her of the warmth of a hug. A debut picture book illustrator, Lis lives in Toronto, Ontario.

Lis Xu's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"This may provide little ones and their adults an opportunity to discuss positive coping skills, including how artistic self-expression—paired with adult encouragement and understanding—can help manage fears and engage with the outside world."


"Deborah Kerbel's text is astute but profound... Lis Xu's illustrations, soft and understated in pencil crayon, give Molly's story a delicate texture that reminds us that this is a child's world."

CanLit for Little Canadians

"This is a compelling book about anxiety and the ways we can cope, heal and ultimately persevere, through creating art."

Mighty Village

"[Deborah] Kerbel offers poetic and prescient insight into mental wellness, without a whiff of didacticism."

Quill & Quire - STARRED REVIEW

"An artful plea for emotional acceptance."

Kirkus Reviews

Other titles by Deborah Kerbel