by Jennifer Rae
illustrated by Rose Cowles
published by Whitecap Books
1998, 32 pages
Dirty Dog Boogie
written and Illustrated by Loris Lesynski
published by Annick Press
1999, 32 pages
A Happy Dog's Life
Reviewed by Linda L. Richards
Dogs and kids are a winning combination. There's something about the eternally happy aspect of the canine that children find irresistible. Add the almost mystic quality that a good illustrator brings, and you're on your way to magic as far as the average five-to-seven-year-old is concerned. Both Dirty Dog Boogie and Dog Tales are rich with the kind of illustrations that make kids smile.
Of course, though we all know a picture is worth a thousand words, good illustrations without a strong story or central theme are just so much vanilla pudding: fun for a while, but hardly the sort of thing that can satisfy a real appetite. Both books are strong in the theme department, as well: though in very different ways.
Cindersmelly lived with a pair of persnickety Siamese cats who spent all day grooming and cleaning themselves but who never lifted a claw around the house. Cindersmelly was made to do all the work -- fetching newspapers, carrying stinky slippers, cleaning dirty dishes, even sweeping the floor with her big, black tail. So not only was she smelly -- she was dusty as well.
Sound familiar? And well it should, with just enough differences to invite gales of laughter from your favorite young reader. For instance, it's the Prince's Pet Show our dear Cindersmelly is too dusty and smelly to go to. Though, fortunately for Cindersmelly a vacuum cleaner salesman named Harry Dogslobber appears just in time to save the day and clean Cindersmelly into a semblance of a canine who can go to the Pet Show. And when she arrives: "What a beautiful shiny black coat! I should like to have such a big, black dog as that!" And, well... you know the rest: with variations.
Read them all alone
To the under-seven set to whom poem and rhyme are practically synonymous, Lesynski's poems are pure music. When it comes to rhyming stuff, Lesynski is a major goddess. The only thing more joyous than her rhymes are her charming and well drawn illustrations.
Down in the corners of most of my toes,
And so on through a couple more stanzas. This is, after all, the stuff kids think about: things that are close and understandable and within the realm of their own universe. | March 1999
Linda L. Richards is the editor of January Magazine and the author of Death Was in the Picture.