To this season of the dog book, add this sprightly celebration of canine anecdotes. Wishing to get to the heart of what makes a dog a dog, the Hausmans, both mythologists, poured over sacred oral narratives, conjectures as to our prehistorical relationships with various mutts, and contemporary dog stories. What they deliver here is a compendium of these findings, laid out alphabetically by breed: 50 backgrounds of purebreds, 40 additional dog tales, drawn from global sources, explicating and dramatizing our fascination with Bowser (they also provide what appear to be American Kennel Club specs on established purebreds). Dog lovers will doubtless be captivated, but so too will the casual browser of this collection of arcana and mythological baggage, savoring the odd tidbits: the quirky Airedale hailing a cab, the pit bull's ability to sniff out ``evil intent from the slack manner of any man,'' how the African basenji lost its bark, and why one should never try to displace a coonhound from the porch swing. Other tales relate how the whistled tune of a stranger turned the bulldog from a bully to an upstanding citizen, why the springer spaniel bit the pope's toe and thus ushered in the Church of England, and the curious tale of the weimaraner that liked to talk on the phone. And what is one to make of the story that the urinating ghost of a dingo created the Magellanic Clouds? Well, probably little other than to marvel at the sheer inventiveness of it all, for one of the great pleasures of this book is to see the art of myth-making laid as bare as possible. Good stuff entertainingly told, and a gold mine for dog fanciers. (35 photos, 35 illustrations)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-312-15177-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1996



This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996




An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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