COURTNEY by John Burningham


by & illustrated by
Age Range: 4 - 8
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One of Britain's most thoughtful and creative picture-book makers gives a familiar scenario his own inimitable spin. When "the children" beg for a dog, the usual debate ensues. Permission finally granted, the boy and girl ignore their parents' admonition ("Make sure it's a proper dog. One with a pedigree") and request "a dog that nobody wants." The parents are horrified when they bring home a mongrel, but Courtney turns out to be a paragon who cooks delicious meals, plays the violin, cleans the house, and rescues the baby when a fire breaks out. Still, when he disappears, the parents observe that, "If they are not thoroughbreds, you cannot rely on them." In a final sequence the kids are saved from drifting out to sea by a hero identified only in the background of an illustration as their erstwhile dog. Appropriate to the gently ironic tone and carefully understated subtext, Burningham's pictures here are in his familiar cartoon mode, poignantly expressive but without the marvelously vibrant alternating spreads he has often used to express a child's imagination or emotions (e.g., in John Patrick Norman McHennessy... [1988]). Witty, well told, and superbly illustrated. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0099666812
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Crown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1994


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