A pampered French bulldog named Mabel leads a life of misbehavior in this celebrity vehicle.
Mabel lives in a mansion in the Hamptons with a swimming pool and her own bedroom. She narrates her story with a worldly-wise and wisecracking voice, a sophisticated pooch always looking for something to get up to. Her mischievous antics are creative and entertaining, such as taking a golf cart for a joy ride and adding her own painted details to a huge, expensive portrait. The climax of Mabel’s many misdeeds finds her crashing her owners’ fancy dinner party around the pool. There, she eats too much human food, leading to a doggy digestive gas attack that clears the house. The evening ends with Mabel in bed in between her “parents,” who reassure her of their unconditional love. The concept and illustrations work well together, but the story is long, plodding, and filled with adult-level quips and jokes that will fly over the heads of most children. One of these comments about Mabel’s French ancestry is an old cultural stereotype that doesn’t belong in the 21st century: “Maybe it’s the French in me, but I do not like to bathe. Not one bit.” Digitally produced, cartoon-style illustrations and a supersized format create a larger-than-life aura for Mabel’s debut (a sequel is already in the works), but her story is frantic, not funny.
Mabel’s story may be a hit in the Hamptons, but will it play in Peoria? Maybe not. (Picture book. 4-8)