Doggie 101

(Making up for lost blogging time… This week has been trying, and the book I’m currently reading is taking me such a long time… harr.)
Shortly after we got our new (old) dog Macky (his old family migrated to Canada), who is somewhere between a shih tzu and what looks like an old english sheepdog (they told us he’s a shih tzu), I found a book that made the transition easier for us: The Dog Owner’s Manual: Operating Instructions, Troubleshooting Tips, and advice on Lifetime Maintenance by Dr. David Brunner and Sam Stall (illustrated by Paul Kepple and Jude Buffum).
Although a bit pricey for my regular Book Sale standards (P160), this immediately caught my attention primarily because of its cute vector graphics (it’s from one of my favorite publishers — Chronicle Books, which publishes a lot of quirky books), but mostly because of its smart concept.
It’s a pet care book that reads like an instruction manual for a gadget. The back reads:

At last! A Beginner’s Guide to Canine Technology

Pee stains on the carpet. Barking at all hours of the night. That embarrassing thing he does with your leg. It’s enough to make you cry out, “Why doesn’t my dog have an owner’s manual?” And now, thankfully, he does.

Through step by step instructions and helpful schematic diagrams, The Dog Owner’s Manual explores hundreds of frequently asked questions: Which breeds interface best with children? How can I program my model to fetch? And why is its nose always wet? Whatever your concerns, you’ll find the answers right here — courtesy of celebrated veterinarian Dr. David Brunner and acclaimed author Sam Stall. Together they provide plenty of useful advice for both new and experienced dog owners.

The chapter headings read: Welcome to your new dog! (includes diagram and parts list, memory capacity, product life span); Overview of Makes and Models (product history, top selling models, pre-acquisition checklists); Home installation; Daily Interaction; Basic Programming; Fuel Requirements; Exterior Maintenance; Growth and Development; Interior Maintenance; Emergency Maintenance, and Advanced Functions.
And the schematic diagrams are really schematic diagrams, and are quite entertaining. The book can show you how to give your dog a Heimlich maneuver, get your dog in a car, identify rabies, calculate age in dog years, give your dog a bath, and many more!

Tonight (several months later), I found The Dog Owner’s Maintenance Log (unused, for P15!), which is a spiral bound record book. It’s a great companion to the book, because you can personalize the details and use it to keep track of your dog’s progress. I plan to fill in this one (hehe, read: get my sister to) with Macky’s medical info and other important notes.

Squee for Book Sale! And squee for compulsive book buying!


My copy: Dog Owner’s Manual and Dog Owner’s Maintenance Log, both paperback
My rating: both 5/5 stars

Picture book roundup #2

Got myself some great picture books for my collection this week:

Jumanji written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg (#23 for 2009)
Monster! written by Angela McAllister, illustrated by Charlotte Middleton (#24 for 2009)
Tuesday written and illustrated by David Wiesner (#25 for 2009)

and I’m throwing in one other book from my “for shelving” pile (just finished covering, hehe): To Market, to Market written by Anne Miranda, illustrated by Janet Stevens

I was covering them in plastic this afternoon, so I decided I might as well read and review them so I can shelve them already.

To Market, to Market is a hilarious retake of the famous Mother Goose rhyme:

“To market, to market, to buy a fat pig,
Home again, home again, jiggity-jig!”

In this story, the old woman goes to the market and buys a fat pig… and also a hen, a trout, a goose, a lamb, a duck, and a goat.

Chaos ensues when she brings home the animals one by one and they start to escape and make a mess around the house, and the old woman gets crankier and crankier.

Finally, the old woman goes back to the market together with all the animals and buys a bunch of vegetables. Then they go home, and the old woman makes a rich, hot soup that she shares with all the animals, and they all collapse into a happy pile on the kitchen floor.

I actually let out a sigh of relief at the end of the book because I was afraid she was going to cook all the animals to get rid of the racket they were making.

I also liked the illustrations in the book — an interesting combination of photocopied pictures (black and white, for the backgrounds) and watercolor (full color, for the animals and the old lady), as they captured the humor of the story perfectly.

Check it out here.

I actually haven’t read the original Jumanji until today, but the movie (as well as the movie novelization) was a childhood favorite.

The storybook is actually a simpler version, without the Robin Williams plotline, but most of the elements from the game are there.

Jumanji is a Caldecott awardee, and Chris van Allsburg’s illustrations, are as always, superb. Monochromatic pencil drawings, clean lines, and masterful use of the play of light and shadow — his art never fails to awe me.

Check the book out here.

Next in the lineup is Monster! a story that deals with the responsibility of keeping a pet, an issue that is close to my heart. I agree that kids need to learn this, because they often think pets are toys, and even as grown-ups some people do not take pet-keeping seriously.

The story is quite effective in driving the message across. It’s about a kid named Jackson who wants a pet so badly, so his dad gets him a hamster, which he immediately names “Monster.” The hamster is a novelty, and after a week he forgets to clean Monster’s cage, and forgets to feed the hamster altogether (tsk, tsk, tsk…).

One day, Monster escapes from the cage, gets into the sack of hamster feed, and grows into a real monster, and things take on a surreal reversal of roles. Jackson becomes the pet and he finds out for himself how it feels to be neglected.

Thankfully, it is all a bad dream, and when he wakes up, he finds his hamster, renames him “Fluffy” and resolves to take better care of him.

The illustrations in this book are interesting too, as upon closer examination, I discovered they’re actually a collage of paper cutouts outlined in dark pencil.

The last book in this lineup is the Caldecott awardee Tuesday by David Wiesner, which I got, hardbound for *drumroll, please* P15! All right, so it’s a library discard and a little beat up, but I don’t really care, it’s nothing a fresh plastic cover and invisible taped won’t fix. I actually mooched a copy from Israel, but it’s been some months now and I think it might have gotten lost in the mail, so this will have to do for now.

It’s a book with very few words, about some very strange happenings one Tuesday night, when hundreds of frogs (what do you call them in collective anyway? Ooh, google says it’s “army”) fly into the night sky on lilypads, running into lines of laundry, inside windows, down fireplaces, past trees and dogs.

The lilypads lose their flight as soon as the sun rises, and the next morning, to the townsfolk’s puzzlement, the street is littered with lilypads and some people swear they saw things zooming across the sky the night before.

The story ends with a funny twist: next Tuesday, and this time, it’s the pigs that are flying.

I am not fond of frogs so I was actually queasy at the sight of so many throughout the book, but it’s fascinating how each frog’s pattern is painstakingly different from the others. The visual narrative is awesome too — Wiesner is a master of wordless picture books.

Check out the book here!

Sigh. Book Sale is a tre
asure trove for picture book collectors.

My copies: To Market, to Market, paperback (P30, from Pick-a-Book warehouse); Jumanji, hardbound but missing dust jacket (P55 from Book Sale); Monster!, paperback (P15 from Book Sale); Tuesday, hardcover with dust jacket (P15 from Book Sale)

My rating: To Market, to Market, 4/5 stars; Jumanji, 5/5 stars; Monster!, 4/5 stars; Tuesday, 5/5 stars