cover image Henry the Dog with No Tail

Henry the Dog with No Tail

Kate Feiffer, , illus. by Jules Feiffer. . S&S/Wiseman, $16.99 (28pp) ISBN 978-14169-1614-7

Both fanciful and contrived, Kate Feiffer's (Double Pink ) story about being careful what you wish for also feels labored. It begins ingenuously if wordily: “Henry wanted one thing in life. He wanted a tail. Henry was a dog with no tail. And this made him sad.” Livening things up, Jules Feiffer departs from the simple lines of his Bark, George for insouciant, loose-lined charcoal and watercolor illustrations that sprawl across the page, suggesting action even when their subject is at rest. After an introduction to the supporting cast—a Labrador, pug and poodle, all indebted to the art for their individuated personalities—the text turns to extended puns to propel an essentially quixotic plot. To buy a tail, Henry goes to a tailor, who for some reason sews up an absurdly long, button-on tail. Because his tail doesn't wag, Henry goes to a wagon maker. Although the wagon maker can't help him, Henry buys a wagon (why?), and it takes him to New York City's Battery Park, which is (of course) strewn with batteries. Now battery-powered, the tail wags Henry right up a tree, where he makes a decision: “I think my days of having a tail are behind me.” All in all, a shaggy dog story. Ages 3-6. (Oct.)