Tuesday, May 24, 2011

LaRue on the Road: LaRue Across America: Postcards from the Vacation by Mark Teague



Ike LaRue, America's favorite Airedale, is back in his fourth epistolary adventure, LaRue Across America: Postcards From the Vacation (LaRue Books) ((Blue Sky Press, 2011) co-starring his long-time arch-enemies, Leona Hibbins' two feisty felines. When their mistress is taken off to the hospital with heat exhaustion, Ike's kindly owner Gertrude LaRue gladly cancels their vacation cruise, to Ike's vast disappointment, and our canine hero finds himself an unwilling passenger, sharing the backseat of their weary station wagon with two cats who obviously are enjoying Ike's discomfiture to the max.

As Ike LaRue watches their erstwhile luxury cruise ship steam away, the two felines rejoice and set out to make Ike rue every minute of their cross country trip. Ike does his best to dump the two from the deck of the Empire State Building:

"When I tried to hold them up so that they could get a better view, they turned on me viciously"

Ike's series of postcards to Leona Hibbins grow ever more desperate as the increasingly grim Mrs. LaRue chauffeurs her pesky passengers from one scenic destination to the next across the continent.

From: Big Earl's Motel, Bazooka, WI
Dear Mrs. Hibbins, We were forced to stay in this vile motel, as none of the finer establishments will accept cats! Please reply promptly.

As Ike acquires bandaids and other insults to his person and dignity, the incompatible tourists visit Dino-Land Theme Park, Nostril Creek, Kansas, and even the Grand Canyon, as Ike regretfully learns that the U.S. Postal Service will not accept live cats for parcel post delivery back to Snort City.

At last LaRue's luck changes. Gertrude's superannuated station wagon dies in Death Valley, and the unlikely group are rescued by a true officer and gentleman, Gustave Blim, First Mate of the SS Mermaid, who gives them a lift and a complementary cruise on his own luxurious ship, where Ike and the two cats call a temporary truce over a room service fish platter.

For fans of the previous three Ike adventures or first-timers, this is a wonderfully funny road-trip tale. As in the other hilarious LaRue books, Ike's self-serving missives make for lots of fun, set ironically against his own fantasies (in black-and-white, since dogs don't visualize in color) and the actual proceedings as portrayed most comically by master illustrator Mark Teague. For a quick video look at this adventure, here's the book's trailer : LaRue Across America: Postcards From the Vacation (LaRue Books)

Kirkus Reviews says of this sea-to-shining-sea epistle: "This furry fiasco is fabulous fun. No pussyfooting here, just the cat's meow of a doggie's tale of woe. Bone Voyage."

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