Monday, July 19, 2010

Star - An Irish Wolfhound (1959)

Star - An Irish Wolfhound
Janet Rogers Howe
1959, The Westminster Press

"Remember 'way back last summer Pop promised me I could have a big dog if Dr. Bob should get a stray that isn't claimed or one somebody wants to find a home for. I don't care what kind it is as long as it's really huge"

Pete's humorless obsession is rewarded with an Irish Wolfhound through the usual auspices of children's book coincidence. Dr. Bob, the local vet, delivers an unwanted runt from a nearby kennel's prize litter, so choosy little Pete gets his wish for The Very Biggest Dog There Is. Unfortunately for the size-preoccupied boy, the kennel's owned by the mother of a disagreeable classmate, Chuck, who also ends up with a puppy from that litter. And his puppy, a male, is larger. Poor Pete!

... ten energetic young wolfhounds raced and wrestled together. One, a light honey-tan, was taller, longer and more mature-looking than the others. That was Gellert. Pete realized, with a real twinge of regret, that he was bigger than Star.

Pete and his best buddy, Bill, are annoyed by the arrogant and prickly Chuck, who wouldn't be their pal even if he didn't own a larger dog than Pete's. But Dr. Bob wisely sees that the problem is Chuck's overbearing mother, and encourages the boys to bond. Over their wolfhounds.

The writing is fine, the action smooth if not wonderful, and the overall quality is better than average. But there are just a few too many aggravating things. The yawningly familiar plot that a controlling mother is ruining her son, the insistence on reminding us at every turn that these are wolfhounds (she never calls them dogs), the female friend who gets backburnered consistently so that the effect is of an author trying to eliminate every female presence in the book - Pete's mother is dead, Bill's is never seen, Chuck's is an ogre, and Pete's aunt is a crank. The awkwardness of the author trying to have her hunter plot and eat it too by having a father quickly comment that a near-tragic shooting was a natural mistake on the part of a hunter. God forbid she criticize a hunter.

Other Books
Curly (1956)
Benjamin Big (1958, Saint Bernard dog)
The Mystery Of The Marmalade Cat (1969)
The Secret Of Castle Balou (1967)
Thunder And Jerry (1949, horse?)
Trinket (1961, Shetland pony)
Samuel Small's Secret Society (1960)

No comments:

Post a Comment