Friday, September 07, 2018

Only Dog? The Other Dog by Madeleine L'Engle

First of all--I think you should know that I am the one who wrote this book.

So I, Touche' L'Engle-Franklin, wrote this book with the assistance of that inferior canine, Jo.

This summer... my mistress went away for a few days. And when she came back, she brought another dog.

Touche' is a proud and mature poodle in the perfect household, until her mistress brings a new pet into the home.
Touche' terms the new one, whom she calls Jo-Dog, a terrible mistake.

One dog is enough for any family.

Not only does Touche' regard her lap-sitting services as exemplary, this new Jo-Dog doesn't even meet minimal pet standards. While Touche' condescends to go out for "fresh air" in all sorts of dismal weather, this Jo-Dog only goes out--in a carriage yet!--only when the weather is lovely. And her master and mistress dress the new dog in something they call "diapers."

At first I did not understand the significance of this. When I did, I was shocked.

I would never do that in the house!

To add insult to injury, Touche' only gets fed once a day, while this "Jo-thing" gets fed any old time she wishes to eat. Touche' decides that her master and mistress are trying to feed Jo up in hopes she will grow a lovely tail like her own.

But when Jo-Dog gets her own doghouse, Touche' finds it's fun to play peekaboo with her, and they find ways to play ball together on the floor. And Jo-Dog is actually quite pleasant to nap with, several times a day!

"I have come to to a surprising, amazing, astonishing conclusion: In every home there should be at least two dogs."

An old dog can learn new tricks, in Madeleine L'Engle's semi-autobiographical reminiscence of her beloved only dog and her firstborn child, in The Other Dog (Chronicle Books, 2018). Narrated by her sophisticated and not a little superior pampered poodle Touche', this revised edition of beloved author L'Engle's first book for children humorously treats the story of the displaced only dog in a way that hints at the surprise that an only child feels at the presentiment of an infant sibling. Christine Davenier's soft but stylish 1950s'-styled colored pencil illustrations evoke the period while perfectly revealing the indignation of the supercilious poodle who in time learns to love the "Jo-Dog" as well. Says Publishers Weekly, "The closing shot of dog and baby nestled together for a nap is timeless," as is the Newbery-winning (for A Wrinkle in Time (Time Quintet), L'Engle's classic story of family life, augmented by her author's note, reveals more about the history of her dog Touche' and her daughter Jo.

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