Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sociable Toby
Eleanor Clymer, il. Ingrid Fetz
1956, E.M. Hale & Company

Miss Emma Dusenberry has seen her quiet neighborhood torn away, the big old houses destroyed and replaced by new ranchers, until her big Victorian is the only one left. And she's the only older person left in a landscape of children and younger couples. Lonely yet tired of answering the door for children whose toys have flown into her yard and listening to the sounds of families, she decides to buy a dog.

It must not be too big and not too small...I want a watchdog to bark when people come to the door. But I don't want one that will bite children.

A reasonable list, and one that I favor myself. But like all dog buyers, she forgets to factor in at least one trait. In her choice of bright-eyed, medium-sized, barky but kindly Toby, what she doesn't realize is that he's a sociable sort of dog, more prone to bringing people to her than to keeping people away. It all ends well, of course, during a blizzard when Miss Dusenberry's outdated old house provides shelter for the new people let down by their snazzy new ranchers.

Written in a simple and engaging style with a very basic sentence structure. Beautifully illustrated by Fetz's warm, personable drawings. She executes the tricky maneuver of giving a black dog's shaggy face personality and vivacity, and her simple portraits of people fit the writing style nicely.

Ingrid Fetz based her drawings on her own Kerry Blue Terrier (also named Toby), although the fictional Toby's breed is never mentioned.

About the Author
Eleanor Lowenton Clymer
January 7, 1906-April 3, 2001

Clymer wrote over 50 books for children, including five picture books starring an irascible orange cat named Horatio and The Trolley Car Family. The du Grummond collection of children's literature at the University of Southern Mississippi contains some of her papers and manuscripts.

Du Grummond Library

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