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Help Me, Mr. Mutt!: Expert Answers for Dogs with People Problems    by Janet Stevens & Susan Stevens Crummel order for
Help Me, Mr. Mutt!
by Janet Stevens
Order:  USA  Can
Harcourt, 2008 (2008)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Daninhirsch

One of my family's favorite children's books is this author/illustrator team's 2005 release, The Great Fuzz Frenzy, so we were looking forward to their latest effort. The same sense of style and humor are apparent in this amusing book, too.

Mr. Mutt is a Canine Counselor with an advice column akin to Dear Abby. Canines from all over America (Dogtona Beach, Florida; Dog Haven, Connecticut; Woof Woof, Washington) write to Mr. Mutt for advice. These poor dogs' owners just don't understand them. An example: Overdressed in Oklahoma complains that his owners dress him up as a baby, bunny, bride or angel, and he just has no dignity left (the accompanying pictures of a basset hound in bunny ears are very funny).

Mr. Mutt answers all of his letters with the kind of advice sure to start a doggie revolution. When another dog complains that his owners are confusing him because they constantly tell him to stop barking but then ask him to speak, Mr. Mutt responds: 'Have some fun. The next time your people say 'Speak'! look them in the eye and let out a big 'MOOOOO.' They will be so surprised that they will drop the box of treats. It's all yours! Grab it and run.'

With each response given by Mr. Mutt, a letter to the editor appears, written by a cat known only as The Queen. The undercurrents of war between cat and dog, and between animal and human behavior, drive the book's humor. As usual, the illustrations are absolutely perfect. Crummel is an expert at capturing animal expressions, and she is a master of detail. At the end, of course, the cat known as The Queen takes over, and one of the last scenes depicts Mr. Mutt tied up in green rope, with his glasses askew.

Help Me, Mr. Mutt! is definitely an entertaining book, though some of the humor might go over the heads of very young children.

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