Grub is such a muddy, mucky, messy dog! What to do?
Despite strenuous efforts, Ruby can’t stop Grub from digging in the garden, rolling in dirt, tracking paw prints all over the house, and splashing her in the bath. Finally he digs a hole under the fence, and that’s the last straw for Mom: off he goes to stay with Uncle Tom, who has three dogs already. Instantly the household just doesn’t feel right—not to Ruby, nor to her mom (“The garden’s too tidy”), dad (“The house is too clean”), or little brother Joe (“GUB!!!”). Unsurprisingly, the exile doesn’t last long. Grub, portrayed as a small, flop-eared bundle of relentless energy, often seems out of control but seldom looks grimy enough to create the messes he leaves in Warburton’s sketchy, informally drawn domestic scenes. Though the shared adoration between girl and dog lights up the whole episode, Ruby’s narrative tends toward wordiness: “When I shout, ‘Stop digging!’ he doesn’t stop digging. Do you know what he does? He keeps digging!” The abject surrender at the end (“Now the house is a mess, the garden is a mess, everywhere’s a mess. But it doesn’t matter…”) begs any sort of realistic resolution or coping strategy.
A doggy love note, but it’s no better than a bland alternative to Harry the Dirty Dog (1956) or such descendants as Lori Mortensen and Michael Allen Austin’s Cowpoke Clyde and Dirty Dawg (2013). (Picture book. 5-7)