ONLY ONE WOOF by James Herriot


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A touching tale about a silent sheepdog is ruined by awkward writing. Herriot is the English country vet who has written many delightful stories about his experiences in All Creatures Great and Small and other books for adults. In this, his second children's book (his first was Moses the Kitten), he does an excellent job of convincing us that he ought to stick to writing for adults. The story is sweet and full of promise: Gyp is a sheepdog who won't bark, much to the chagrin of the farmer who owns him. While still puppies, Gyp and his companion Sweep are separated when Sweep is sold. The two meet again, as fully grown dogs, at a sheepdog championship trial, and Gyp joyfully greets his long-lost friend with a loud bark, his one and only woof. Unfortunately, Herriot's prose sounds forced; there is no excitement or zip to the tale. And the use of British expressions, rather than lending color, will probably confuse young American readers. Barrett's watercolors are uninspired as well. Despite his realistic renderings of animals, the static pictures merely relay information rather than enhance the story.

Pub Date: Oct. 21st, 1985
Publisher: St. Martin's