Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Here's a treat to make Paulsen fans sit up and beg for more: scenes of Paulsen's life viewed in terms of the dogs who graced them. Aficionados who have read Paulsen's other memoirs (Father Water, Mother Woods; Eastern Sun, Northern Moon) already know of the author's rough-and-tumble childhood as the son of alcoholics; readers of Winterdance already know of his devotion to the sled dogs who pulled him through the Iditarod. Although he returns to familiar territory here, his approach is new. Profiling such dogs as Dirk, who "had Airedale crossed with hound crossed with alligator" and who unfailingly protected him from hoodlums who routinely menaced him in his youth, he both reveals himself and pays vivid tribute to his canine companions. In deceptively casual prose, he writes of his own troubles matter-of- factly while wittily and affectionately enumerating his dogs' virtues. Not all the episodes are bleak, fortunately, and one of the most successful chapters describes the glee inspired by a particularly brilliant border collie. While most boy-and-dog accounts tend either toward the tearjerker or toward the consciously heartwarming, Paulsen's paean resonates with a robust appreciation of the species; his writing percolates with energetic love. Illustrations not seen by PW. Ages 10-up. (Feb.)
Children's Literature - Children's Literature
Any Paulsen fan knows that Paulsen has a deep appreciation for animals in general, and dogs in particular. So it makes perfect sense to recall periods of his life in terms of memorable dogs. Paulsen dedicates this book to his dog, Cookie, who led his first Iditarod race and saved his life. Paulsen has indeed known some amazing dogs--there's Snowball who brightened his seven-year-old existence by rambling with him in the strange Philippine world to which his parents had moved; Ike appeared when he needed a hunting dog and then, one day, disappeared just as mysteriously. It wasn't until years later Paulsen discovered Ike's secret. From the tiny watchdog, Dirk, to the gentle and gigantic Great Dane, Caesar, Paulsen remembers each canine pal with warmth and humor. Each dog has a special quality and story to tell and Paulsen tells them marvelously well. 1999, Yearling, Ages 8 up, $15.95 and $4.99. Reviewer: Susie Wilde
VOYA - Richard Gercken
This collection of seven informal essays about some of Paulsen's dogs should be a hit with dog lovers and the popular YA writer's fans. Some of the earlier pieces are as much about Paulsen as the dogs. We learn about his parents (he calls them drunks ) as well as about his loneliness as a child. Anyone who has ever been picked on by other kids will cheer on alley dog Dirk as he protects his master and chases his tormentors. But there is joy as well as terror. Ike, the black Labrador, who did not belong to Paulsen but hunted with him, meant a lot to him, as did his discovery of hunting, "the opening into a world of wonder." I wish Paulsen and a child's father had not lied to a child in the Iditarod story about Quincy. But most of the book is casual, and the stories tend to sentimental endings. They are like Reader's Digest anecdotes and might be titled "One of the Most Unforgettable Dogs I Ever Knew." But Paulsen is master of the shrewd one-liner: "Of all the dogs I have had, Fred was closest to being nuclear in his capacity for destruction." Paulsen believes dogs analyze and plan. If he really means for me to believe that his border collie Josh used to irrigate his fields, I don't. But such questions and any lack of substance will not trouble those countless readers young and old who cannot wait to read every word Paulsen writes. My Q rating is based on the (dangerous) assumption that the final, edited version of this text will be at least as stylistically well done as Paulsen's previous published work and not contain the serious defects of this unedited version. VOYA Codes: 3Q 2P M J S (Readable without serious defects, For the YA with a special interest in the subject, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8, Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9 and Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
School Library Journal
Gr 4 UpPaulsen reveals bits and pieces of his own life story through his experiences with eight of his dogs. After a heartfelt dedication to Cookie, the sled dog who saved his life, the author introduces readers first to Snowball, the puppy he acquired when he was seven years old and living in the Philippines, and then follows chronologically with profiles of other canine companions. He concludes with tales about Josh, the border collie with whom he currently shares a home. Paulsen is a master storyteller with a dry wit. His description of his dog Fred, whom he claimed was actually "nuclear in his capacity for destruction," and his account of his Great Dane Caesar, who was so petrified of trick-or-treaters that he would hide in the bedroom closet every Halloween with a housecoat over his eyes, are sure to elicit smiles. Paulsen can also make readers sigh when he relates how Snowball saved him from being bitten by a poisonous snake and how Cookie pulled him out of the water when he fell through the ice while trapping beaver. The statement, "Josh...is a person. I do not think in my heart that he is a dog," gives youngsters a real sense of how the man looks at these animals. An attractive pen-and-ink sketch of the profiled animal opens each chapter. This well-written, readable reminiscence serves as a tribute to the dogs in one person's life, written by someone who considers them his best friends.Carol Kolb Phillips, The Library, East Brunswick, NJ
From the Publisher
* "Guaranteed to charm animal lovers and Paulsen's fans. . . . Something to please at every turn of the page. . . . This honest, unpretentious celebration of dogs further entrenches his reputation as an author who is as successful at writing nonfiction as he is at writing novels."
Booklist, starred review
"Paulsen is a master storyteller with a dry wit. . . . Gives readers a real sense of how the man looks at these animals."
School Library Journal
* "Here's a treat to make Paulsen fans sit up and beg for more.... His writing percolates with energetic love."
Publishers Weekly, starred review
Read an Excerpt
I am--I say this with some pride and not a little wonder--a "dog person." I make no excuses for unabashedly loving them--all of them, even some that have bitten me. I have always had dogs and will have dogs until I die. I have rescued dozens of dogs from pounds, always have five or six of them around me, and cannot imagine living without dogs. They are wonderful and, I think, mandatory for decent human life.
All that said, there are some dogs that are different, special in amazing ways....
From the Trade Paperback edition.