cover image Letters from a Desperate Dog

Letters from a Desperate Dog

Eileen Christelow, . . Clarion, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-618-51003-0

Echoes of Mark Teague's Dear Mrs. LaRue resonate in this story of an unappreciated dog who corresponds with a canine advice columnist. "My human is driving me nuts!" thinks Emma, a brown-and-white mutt belonging to a moody artist, George. Stung by George's accusations that she is a bad dog, Emma emails the "Ask Queenie" column at the Weekly Bone , and Queenie writes back, using language usually applied to four-footed types: "Is George a high-strung breed? They can be difficult to live with!... Have you tried licking his hand?" Alas, Emma's well-meaning efforts to placate George's anger go unnoticed due to her klutziness. Christelow (The Great Pig Search ) combines conventional expository text, watercolor-and-ink comics panels and hand-drawn voice-bubble dialogue in a manner familiar to readers of Susan Meddaugh's Martha books. Like Martha, Christelow's Emma is eager to please, but George proves difficult to like. "If you don't shape up, I'll take you back to the dog pound!" he yells, banishing poor Emma to the yard. Ultimately, when Emma auditions for a theater company and leaves George without an explanation, Christelow loses control of the plot. The convoluted conclusion—Emma runs away, though not on purpose, and gets George to admit his love—suggests that temperamental family members are not easily taught new tricks. Ages 6-9. (Oct.)