Thursday, July 16, 2009
Help Me, Mr. Mutt! is a must read for dog lovers (and cat lovers too). It's a hilarious book that kids and adults will want to read over and over again. The full title is: Help Me, Mr. Mutt!: Expert Answers for Dogs with People Problems and it's by the indomitable sister-team of Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel.
Mr. Mutt is the Dear Abby to the dog world. He is there to offer his sage advice to dogs everywhere. The book is written in a letter format. Dogs write Mr. Mutt with their problem(s), and he writes back with his answer(s). There are a lot of digs at cats, and The Queen (who happens to share an office with Mr. Mutt) has the final say in her letters back to Mr. Mutt, on pink stationery.
Here's a sample:
"Dear Mr. Mutt,
I'm a barker. Hear me bark!
My people yell, "Don't Bark!"
Then they tell me, "Do a trick! Speak! Speak!
For a treat! Doesn't speak mean bark?
What do I do? To bark or not to bark?
That is the question.
Help me, Mr. Mutt!
-Confused in Connecticut
P.S. The loudmouth cat gets to meow constantly. Why isn't THAT a problem?"
Mr. Mutt writes back in full agreement with "Confused" pointing out that it's the way we communicate. Would people tell a duck not to quack? A cow not to moo?
He continues on by explaining that it's a brain thing. The dog brain is enormous. The people brain is the size of a pea (there are illustrations to prove it). People are just confused. He then advises the letter writer to have some fun with his/her people. The next time they ask Confused in Connecticut to "Speak!" look them in the eye and let out a big Moooo. They'll be so surprised, they'll drop the bag of treats (it's all yours).
The Queen responds to Confused in Connecticut by pointing out "A meow is like music to the ears. A lullaby. A symphony."
See, it's funny! Other "problems" that the dogs write about include being put on diets of dry kibble while the cat gets moist food out of the can, being dressed up for holiday pictures (and the cat is never dressed up) and being given too many baths (and of course, no one would dare give the cat a bath).
It's witty and there's also a grain of truth to each and every one of the dog's laments. I have two much-loved dogs and both of them could have written a letter to Mr. Mutt (Edgar's would be about being put on a diet, Sierra's would be about barking). The illustrations are fun and quite realistic. You will recognize these dogs.
BookNosher Activity: Teachers (or parents) can use Help Me Mr. Mutt for a lesson on letter writing. Mr. Mutt writes proper letters which include his address, the recipient's address, date, body and signature. Have your child write a letter from a pet to a pet owner. They can be as wild and imaginative as...well..as Help Me Mr. Mutt!