Friday, April 13, 2012

Best In Show! Carl At the Dog Show by Alexandra Day


Everyone's favorite Rottweiler Carl has a brother in show biz, and it's off to the big dog show downtown for Mom, little Madeleine, and their trusty companion dog Carl.

Once inside the convocation center, it's a mass of dogs and dog people, all busy with their various tasks--psyching up their dogs, grooming their dogs, and for the vendors of canine paraphernalia, plying their wares. Mom tells her two charges that she must help Valerie prepare Gamble for his big moment in the limelight and blithely sends them off into the crowd with instructions to meet her at the show ring in time for Gamble's event.


As we knew they would, Madeleine climbs onto Carl's broad back and Carl carries her off to find fun on the show floor. The two watch all sorts of dogs getting prettied up for their performance in the ring and they try out some doggy bathing equipment for themselves. Carl and Madeleine even take a turn through the tunnel in the dog agility course while the expert border collie looks on a bit scornfully. Among the vendors' stands, Madeleine is entranced by the variety of co-costumes for dogs and owners, trying out a Goldilocks wig on poor Carl while she contemplates a bear mask for herself. As always, the fun arises from the up-close look at the secret adventures of little Madeleine and Carl while the unsuspecting Mom is busy elsewhere

Finally, Carl remembers their orders from Mom, and with an anxious look sets out, Madeleine again on his back, in a cross-country canine derby, leaping over any dogs in his path, until they appear solemnly at ringside just in time for Gamble's big event.

There are plenty of winners at this dog show--Longest Dog, Best Frisbee Catcher, Smallest Dog--but Carl is, of course, a shoo-in for Best Babysitter in anybody's book, and in Alexandra Day's latest book, Carl at the Dog Show (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012), Carl again earns his blue ribbon. Day also offers hours of fun for youngsters by supplying a three-page appendix of thumbnail illustrations of the breeds portrayed on the pages of this book so that young readers can backtrack and spy them all out among the illustrations after the story is done. Horn Book's reviewer points out what makes perusing the detailed and realistic pictures in these full-scale picture books so much fun: “Each spread offers much to look at in itself and rewards close attention, as when we see a small dog curiously nosing a toy on a sales rack only to be politely given the toy by Carl on the next page.”

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