Help Me, Mr. Mutt!: Expert Answers for Dogs with People Problems

Help Me, Mr. Mutt!: Expert Answers for Dogs with People Problems

4.3 17
by Janet Stevens, Susan Stevens Crummel
     
 

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Responding to disgruntled dogs nationwide, Mr. Mutt, Canine Counselor, has solutions to the most sticky dilemmas. But Mr. Mutt has his own problem to solve: the cat (aka The Queen), who has her own idea of who’s in charge. Now Mr. Mutt is the one who needs help--quick!

Through letters and newspaper clippings--and with plenty of their trademark

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Overview

Responding to disgruntled dogs nationwide, Mr. Mutt, Canine Counselor, has solutions to the most sticky dilemmas. But Mr. Mutt has his own problem to solve: the cat (aka The Queen), who has her own idea of who’s in charge. Now Mr. Mutt is the one who needs help--quick!

Through letters and newspaper clippings--and with plenty of their trademark humor--Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel give voice to despairing dogs everywhere.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Every dog has its rough day now and then, which in this high-energy picture book calls for a letter to Mr. Mutt, Canine Counselor. Whether addressing a dog put on a diet by his people, or a pooch who's scolded for barking too much, Mr. Mutt offers a written note of nuts-and-bolts advice (to the hungry dog, he recommends searching the trash, etc.) and anti-cat commentary. His snooty, tiara-wearing cat companion, The Queen, takes issue with his "catty remarks," writing rebuttals on pink stationery. Similar to Mark Teague's Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters from Obedience Schoolin both theme and epistolary format, this sister act's (The Great Fuzz Frenzy) effort lacks LaRue's narrative flow and clever situational humor. Stevens's mixed-media scenes of the pets' ultimate altercation contain the most fun: The Queen demonstrates her prowess with a digitally manipulated ball of yarn as she, taking umbrage at a feline insult, keeps her canine cohort too "tied up" to help his correspondents out of the doghouse. Ages 3-7. (Apr.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature
AGERANGE: Ages 4 to 9.

On the front endpapers Mr. Mutt, Canine Counselor, advertises his help with "people problems." The book is a series of letters requesting advice from dogs with problems, followed by Mr. Mutt's helpful replies, complete with sketches and diagrams. After each pair of letters comes a note from the Queen of Cats, commenting on the disparagement of cats that ends each of Mr. Mutt's notes. After several exchanges, Queen cat gets annoyed enough to "take control." The hilarious, wordless, three-page climax when the Queen takes over is followed by the arrival of one hundred and one dogs on a "rescue mission" for Mr. Mutt. The Queen moves on to advertising her own advice, while Mr. Mutt is "back in business." It is only at the end that we discover that the Queen was living in the same house as Mr. Mutt. The sixteen appealing pups staring at us on the title page win our sympathy from the beginning. Obviously Stevens is a dog lover who depicts them with affection. Mixed media is sensitively employed in some of the scenes that support the clever anecdotes in imaginative ways, while pages of delicate sepia drawings add bits of information. There is both action and fun throughout. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz

School Library Journal

Gr 2-4- With tongue firmly in cheek, the dynamic Stevens sisters have crafted a multilayered story that looks at various situations in the life of an average dog. Through a series of letters to Mr. Mutt, a doggie version of Dear Abby, the text invites readers to learn about the tribulations of "Underplayed in Utah" or "Famished in Florida" and the encouragement they garner from their correspondences. Each letter has its own distinctive style depending on the complaint and the writer's personality but all end with a postscript that refers to the treatment or behavior of cats in the household. Mr. Mutt ends each reply with his own postscript that refers to the cat that shares his home. Here, the book rises to another level of humor with the inclusion of additional commentary from "The Queen," the supremely superior feline who keeps Mr. Mutt in his place. The tension between them builds throughout the letters until a physical confrontation occurs near the end of the story. Mr. Mutt's replies to the dogs in distress include many sketches of "illustrated tips" as well as a variety of graphs to substantiate the advice. While the story will find fans in the primary grades, its most appreciative audience will be among more sophisticated readers who will recognize the amount of effort that went into this creative venture. It's a great read just for fun, and teachers will find a wealth of ways to incorporate it into lessons on letter writing, newspapers, and presenting information through graphs.-Maura Bresnahan, High Plain Elementary School, Andover, MA

Kirkus Reviews
Joining that other epistle-toting dog LaRue (first met in Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters from Obedience School, 2002), self-described "Canine Counselor" Mr. Mutt fires off savvy solutions for correspondents with a string of doggy dilemmas, from enforced diets and silly costumes to humans who'd rather watch TV than play "fetch." Reminding readers (two-legged ones too, perchance) that it's entirely natural for dogs to bark, play and maybe get a little rank, and also that "it's a dog-eat-treat world," Mr. Mutt suggests coping strategies ("If your people get you in the tub, start shaking"), many of which involve some harassment of the local felines. That last draws counterfire from the Counselor's own cat and, ultimately, a brief coup-depicted in the gleefully disorderly watercolors by a view of the chubby writer tied to his own desk chair with real yarn-that muzzles Mr. Mutt until he's rescued by a charging squad of loyal fans. A host of hilarious dog portraits provide further treats. Three licks ("People call it kisses. We call it dessert.") for the Stevens sisters. (Picture book. 6-8)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780152046286
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
04/01/2008
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
56
Sales rank:
490,633
Product dimensions:
9.82(w) x 12.00(h) x 0.41(d)
Lexile:
AD350L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 7 Years

Meet the Author

JANET STEVENS is the author-illustrator of many popular books for children. Her picture books have garnered such awards as a Caldecott Honor, a Golden Kite Honor, and a Texas Bluebonnet Award. She lives in Boulder, Colorado.

SUSAN STEVENS CRUMMEL is the author of a number of acclaimed picture books, many of which she's written with her sister, Janet Stevens. She travels to shools nationwide as a visiting author. She lives in Fort Worth, Texas.

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