Everyone thinks that their own dog is brilliant. Coren has written an intriguing study that will help dog owners to gauge realistically their own dog's intelligence. After discussing the evolution of the dog from its wolf ancestry, Coren looks at the canine and what it has meant in history, its influence on religion, and even its image as harbinger of death. But the meat of the book lies in the author's evaluation of intelligence. He concludes that ``dogs can learn to discriminate over a hundred spoken human words'' and that dogs use different ways of communicating—including barks, growls, and movements of the tail, ears, eyes, and mouth—all in carefully nuanced ways. Coren goes on to suggest that what Americans consider a ``bow-wow'' may simply be the dog speaking in the local dialect; a dog's kiss may ``really mean that it is treating you as its parent and asking for a snack''; ``tail wagging is a completely social gesture. In some ways, it serves the same functions as a human smile''; and urination is a way of saying, ``This territory is mine.'' We are reminded that even today, especially in parts of Asia, the dog is thought of as a form of sustenance and that during the Franco- Prussian war in 1870 the following culinary evaluations were applied: ``Spaniel, like lamb; Poodle far the best; Bulldog coarse and tasteless.'' Coren also presents a 12-part canine IQ test and an obedience personality test that measures the future obedience quotient of a puppy. He also provides tips for teaching and training less intelligent dogs. After a dry, academic start, this becomes an interesting, at times stimulating, manual for the intelligent dog owner.

Pub Date: April 20, 1994

ISBN: 0-02-906683-2

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1994



This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996




An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955