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WAR DOGS by Kathryn Selbert Kirkus Star


Churchill & Rufus

by Kathryn Selbert & illustrated by Kathryn Selbert

Age Range: 6 - 12

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-58089-414-2
Publisher: Charlesbridge

An introductory look at Winston Churchill and his notable place in British history uses a clever narrative device that focuses on his miniature poodle, Rufus.

Churchill was often compared to a bulldog due to his tenacity, and one of his nicknames was the British Bulldog. The book’s title refers to both Churchill and his beloved pet, who accompanied the great leader throughout the war years. The touching story follows Churchill from 1940-45, summarizing his work leading the war effort in England with a succinct and accessible text. Evocative illustrations in acrylic and collage incorporate short quotations from Churchill, designed to look like typewritten notes pinned to the pages. The illustrations do a remarkable job of conveying war-torn London, with one striking, wordless spread showing London in blackout mode, the shadow of St. Paul’s looming above. At war’s end, Churchill and Rufus are shown from the back, sitting near their country home, “two war dogs” resting at last. By focusing closely on Churchill and his pet, Selbert effectively provides a starting point for children to begin to understand the complexities of World War II.

The combination of thoughtful design, compelling illustrations and a winsome canine companion make this beginning biography stand out. (timeline, afterword, bibliography) (Informational picture book. 6-12)