Monday, September 12, 2011


By Berkeley Breathed

(Little, Brown and Company, 2003)

Remember the infamous 1994 Westminster Best in Show where chief judge Heidy Strüdelberg caused a riot after recognizing a three-legged wiener dog who’d once been used for lab experiments? Well, I don’t either, but Berkeley Breathed says it happened and I’ll go with it.

Following the incident, Ms. Strüdelberg retreated to a grain elevator in Piddleton, Vermont, converting it into the Last Chance Dog Pound, a refuge for the most difficult to adopt pooches, ones that fail to meet the perfect breed images of typical pet perusers.

Flawed Dogs is the fictitious 2004 Leftovers Catalogue, featuring truly unique dogs and poems that explain how they fell out of favor. I have previously featured gifted cartoonist Breathed’s The Last Basselope here. Flawed Dogs will not be for everyone, but for some it will be a riotous read.

Case in point: A few years ago while I was principal, a young student at the school stopped attending. All of a sudden, he couldn’t separate from his mother. I was tasked with getting him back in school. It began with short visits in the family car in the school parking lot. In time, I convinced him to stop into my office each day. We checked the Vancouver Canucks’ website and chatted about the last game, the next game and key stats. And then he noticed Flawed Dogs which rested on an upper shelf since I felt one picture wasn’t necessarily appropriate for young readers. (Lulu, an unattractive dog, is accessorized to no avail with a bonnet, two pairs of red high heels and a low-cut sweater stuffed with a couple of tennis balls.) I skipped that page, but read the rest of the book. The boy roared with laughter at gassy Pete whose reaction to kibble sent building blocks and the baby a-tumblin’, iBoo the techno pup (complete with iPoo) and Jeeves the basset hound whose jowls sent him airborne on windy days. Boy humor, perfectly illustrated by Breathed. The student’s laughter got me a gigglin’ and it took half an hour to get through the book while also interrupting all office activity.

He begged me to read the book over and over. It became a key motivator in getting him back into the school and eventually back into class. Flawed Dogs is a fine example of the potency of a picture book when matched with the right reader.

Seek out the book, share it with a group, especially boys who like that kind of humor. I cannot quibble with the content when the reaction is one of utter joy.

1 comment:

  1. Gregory, I love your personal stories about books that convince me to check them out and read them. Thanks for sharing your love of books with the world! Awesome!