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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1996

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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