Friday, June 19, 2009

Henry Huggins and Ribsy

Henry Huggins
Beverly Cleary, il. Louis Darling
1950, William Morrow and Company

He wasn't any special kind of dog. He was too small to be a big dog but, on the other hand, he was much too big to be a little dog. He wasn't a white dog because parts of him were brown and other parts were black and in between there were yellowish patches. His ears stood up and his tail was long and thin.

Third-grader Henry Huggins finds a dog at the bus stop, and takes him home after having some trouble finding a suitable container. The dog, named Ribsy for his skinny frame, becomes an integral part of Klickitat Street. An amiable soul, Ribsy learns how to tolerate neighborhood toddler Ramona Quimbly, and plays a part in all Henry's adventures, from buying a terribly fertile pair of guppies to getting out of a humiliating part in the school play, and triumphing at the local pet show. But when Ribsy's former owner appears, Henry stands to lose his pet.

A sweet, sensible story for young readers with appealing characters, brisk action and wonderful illustrations.

Other books about Henry
Henry And Beezus
Henry And The Clubhouse
Henry And The Paper Route

Other dog books by Cleary
Two Dog Biscuits - picture book

About the Author
Beverly Bunn was born in McMinnville, Oregon. She lived on a farm in Yamhill as a small child, moving to Portland for school. In 1934 she went to college in California. She graduated from U.C. Berkeley, and studied at the University of Washington, Seattle to be a librarian. She was a librarian in Yakima, Washington, until her marriage to Clarence Cleary. She wrote two autobiographies, A Girl from Yamhill and My Own Two Feet. She has had a school named after her, and her famous characters are featured in a mural at a Washington library branch, and as statues in a park in Oregon.

The Beverly Cleary School

The statues (including one of Ribsy) at Grant Park in Portland, OR
Photo 1
Photo 2

Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden
The real Klickitat Street

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Chuck And Danielle

And another sighthound story, this time about a Whippet.

Chuck And Danielle
Peter Dickinson, il. Kees de Kiefte
1996, Delacorte

About fifty yards up the pavement it struck Chuck that there was something wrong with her lead. It didn't have an end. Another fifty yards and it still didn't have an end. This was really frightening. Leads have ends. You hit them when you bolt. That's the system.

Danielle owns a whippet, Chuck, who is terrified of everything, but brave enough to persist in trying again and again to please her owner. This includes braving an agility course, a burglar, and various other deadly threats.

The horse peered at Chuck in a good-gracious-what-have-we-here kind of way, and nosed right forward toward her. Danielle thought she was sure to bolt now, because the horse was absolutely huge, but no, she stayed where she was. Her tail was right between her legs, but it was whipping to and fro beneath her belly, the way it does when she's interested in something but isn't sure if it's allowed. As soon as the horse's head was close enough she stretched out her tongue and licked its nose.

A cheerful book split between Danielle and her mother's fond amusement at their nervous little dog, and Chuck's POV as terrifying, whippet-eating monsters emerge from all corners of the Earth. An ongoing arrangement between Danielle and her mother holds that if Chuck saves the world, Danielle will get a much-coveted but much-denied Big Mac from McDonald's. But can a dog who's terrified of a teddy bear save anyone?

Peter Dickinson
Author's Website here

On the website, Dickinson writes a bit about the dog who inspired Chuck. What he writes about losing her (and two other dogs) just clicked with me: "The loss of a loved human is an immense and complicated network of sorrow. The loss of a dear pet is a narrow, focussed beam of pure grief."