WHAT IS MR. WINKLE?

Lara Jo Regan, Author, Lara Jo Regan, Photographer . Random $14.95 (40p) ISBN 978-0-375-81554-6

This campy photo gallery depicts a fuzzy miniature dog, Mr. Winkle (a familiar sight to many from his calendar, Web site and many media appearances), with his Chihuahua's rounded cranium and a tongue too long for his mouth. He wears various disguises (a fez, a satin smoking jacket) and poses in low-budget tableaux (a green shag rug to imply a grassy yard, a toy rowboat to suggest the high seas). Each ultra-kitschy studio portrait speculates on the title question. The caption "A Bowwow Ballerina?" accompanies a shot of Mr. Winkle in a pink tutu, and "A bedroom slipper?" refers to a retouched photo where his awkward, undersize body morphs into woolly footwear. In a foreword that simply adds to the enigma, Regan explains how she found her unusual pet while "lost in an industrial area" of L.A. ("This muddy, tattered little creature hobbled straight into my arms") and why she made him her model ("His power to heal, enchant, and entertain was too overwhelming to keep to myself"). Her photographs, in which Mr. Winkle uncannily resembles a plush toy more than a live animal, combine the sugary sweetness of Anne Geddes's baby pictures and the creepy ambiguity of William Wegman's images. A final snap of Mr. Winkle sans costume declares him "The cutest dog in the universe!" but that precious answer is not quite in synch with this weird, slightly surreal set of pictures. Ages 4-up. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 10/22/2001
Release date: 10/01/2001
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Library Binding - 40 pages - 978-0-375-91554-3
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