cover image The Other Dog

The Other Dog

Madeleine L'Engle, Roxie Munro, Chronicle Books. Chronicle Books, $15.95 (48pp) ISBN 978-1-58717-040-9

HReaders raised on L'Engle's thoughtful novels (A Wrinkle in Time) will discover a new side of the writer in this impish, tongue-in-cheek memoir. Ostensibly the L'Engle family poodle's account of the arrival of a new baby (whom she thinks an odd sort of dog), Touch L'Engle-Franklin's narrative is enlivened by genteel dismay and the generous use of italics: ""From the start I noticed a great many mysterious and horrifying things. For instance, when I am taken out to get some fresh air I always have to walk even when it rains. The Jo is taken out in a carriage, and when it rains she doesn't have to go out at all."" The poodle softens enough by the end of the story to admit that the family might, after all, be better off with ""two dogs."" Davenier (Leon and Albertine) conveys the expressions and attitudes of the exasperated poodle with calligraphic wit; the family's 1950s-era Manhattan apartment is evoked in her ink-and-wash drawings with such warmth and immediacy that readers can almost hear the radiators hissing. In concert with the sprightly typeface, Davenier's illustrations give the book an engaging retro feel, but the closing shot of dog and baby nestled together for a nap is timeless. Any family with a cosseted dog and a new baby will feel this is written just for them. Ages 5-8. (Mar.)