At once encyclopedic and intimate—a tour de force in canine appreciation.




An engaging, comprehensive study of man’s best friend.

In 2008, Kerasote told the tale of his relationship with his beloved Merle (Merle’s Door, 2008, etc.), the stray dog who basically walked out of the desert and became the author’s stalwart companion. After Merle succumbed to a brain tumor, Kerasote mourned his loss by investigating the factors that influence a dog’s longevity, undertaking a quest to find and raise the healthiest pup possible. “Why has nature decreed that our friendly dogs are already ancient in their teens,” asks the author, “while giving the unhuggable tortoise more than a century of life and some whales two hundred years to swim through the polar seas?” Kerasote attempts to answer that question, combining his close personal observations of canine behavior and health with extensive veterinary input and field research. With his trademark attention to detail and masterful descriptive abilities, Kerasote delves into the crucial factors affecting a dog’s life—breeding, diet, environment, spaying and neutering, living conditions—as he chronicles his hunt for and acquisition of Pukka (pronounced PUCK-ah and Hindi for “first-class”), the good-natured golden Labrador retriever puppy born in Minnesota, whom the author took back home to live with him in Jackson Hole, Wyo. Kerasote covers every aspect of young Pukka’s life, from the genetics and character of his parents, to the car restraints fashioned for their road trip home, to the best food to feed him. Kerasote also graphically probes issues in the U.S. animal shelter system, noting that in a country with upwards of 60 million dogs, 3.4 million dogs and cats are euthanized annually, a vast number compared to Europe and other developed nations. The book is packed with considered, sometimes controversial, reflections alongside accompanying illustrations and helpful notes.

At once encyclopedic and intimate—a tour de force in canine appreciation.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-547-23626-1

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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